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J Immunol Methods. 1998 Apr 1;213(1):1-17.

Identification of epitopes within beta lactoglobulin recognised by polyclonal antibodies using phage display and PEPSCAN.

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Unilever Research, Colworth Laboratory, Sharnbrook, Bedford, UK.


Two different epitope mapping techniques were used to identify linear epitopes recognised by polyclonal IgG antibodies from rabbits immunised with bovine beta lactoglobulin (BLG), which is generally regarded as a major allergen in milk. The first, PEPSCAN, was used to investigate the binding of several rabbit polyclonal antisera to sequential overlapping peptides (12-mers) across the sequence of BLG. Each peptide was synthesized on a different polypropylene PIN, and a standard ELISA procedure was used to locate which of these peptides bound the antibodies under investigation. Comparisons of PEPSCANs for antisera from six different rabbits showed that each rabbit recognized a similar set of epitopes within BLG. PEPSCAN analysis also showed that polyclonal antibodies from the mouse recognize a set of epitopes similar to those recognized by the rabbit. The second epitope mapping technique is known as phage display and utilizes libraries of randomized short peptides fused to the coat proteins of filamentous phage as a source of epitopes for analysis. A gene VIII phage display library was used in this study with constrained nonapeptides, which were screened for epitopes recognized by affinity purified rabbit anti-BLG IgG. Immobilised rabbit anti-BLG IgG was screened in two separate experiments, each consisting of three rounds of panning. For each separate experiment, a sensitive phage ELISA was used to screen several hundred single phage clones for binding to anti-BLG IgG immobilised on microtiter plates. As a result, a number of positive phage were identified from the two separate screens of the library (19 different peptides were isolated, which resembled four different regions of BLG). The identified sequences were found to constitute a subset of the linear epitopes recognized by the PEPSCAN technique. The coordinates of the crystal structure of BLG were used to display mapped epitopes on its structure. This study has permitted detailed mapping of the major linear antigenic regions within BLG recognised by IgG antibodies from immunised rabbits and mice.

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