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J Biol Chem. 1998 Oct 23;273(43):28091-7.

Identification and cloning of prs a 1, a 32-kDa endochitinase and major allergen of avocado, and its expression in the yeast Pichia pastoris.

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  • 1Department of General and Experimental Pathology, University of Vienna, AKH-EBO-3Q, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Avocado, the fruit of the tropical tree Persea americana, is a source of allergens that can elicit diverse IgE-mediated reactions including anaphylaxis in sensitized individuals. We characterized a 32-kDa major avocado allergen, Prs a 1, which is recognized by 15 out of 20 avocado- and/or latex-allergic patients. Natural Prs a 1 was purified, and its N-terminal and two tryptic peptide sequences were determined. We isolated the Prs a 1 encoding cDNA by PCR using degenerate primers and 5'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends. The Prs a 1 cDNA coded for an endochitinase of 326 amino acids with a leader peptide of 25 amino acids. We expressed Prs a 1 in the yeast Pichia pastoris at 50 mg/liter of culture medium. The recombinant Prs a 1 showed endochitinase activity, inhibited growth and branching of Fusarium oxysporum hyphae, and possessed IgE binding capacity. IgE cross-reactivity with latex proteins including a 20-kDa allergen, most likely prohevein, was demonstrated, providing an explanation for the commonly observed cross-sensitization between avocado and latex proteins. Sequence comparison showed that Prs a 1 and prohevein had 70% similarity in their chitin-binding domains. Characterization of chitinases as allergens has implications for engineering transgenic crops with increased levels of chitinases.

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