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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Increased allergen production in turnip (Brassica rapa) by treatments activating defense mechanisms.

BACKGROUND: Practical applications to enhance the productivity of agriculture by using plants with improved resistance to pathogens are expected to increase in the near future. Defense proteins play an important role in pathogen resistance, and some defense-related proteins are significant cross-reacting allergens. For example, cross-allergies are common among patients allergic to natural rubber latex (NRL), which contains many defense-related proteins. OBJECTIVE: Using a model plant (ie, turnip), we studied whether allergen contents increase after treatments activating defense mechanisms of the plants. METHODS: Whole or wounded turnips treated with salicylic acid, ethephon, or water were incubated for 2, 4, or 8 days. Allergen content was investigated by IgE immunoblotting with sera from patients allergic to NRL. An induced protein that bound IgE most intensively was purified and further characterized by mass analysis, amino acid sequencing, IgE-ELISA, and skin prick tests. RESULTS: In immunoblotting, clear IgE-binding bands were discernible only in samples from chemically treated plants. IgE was bound most intensively to a protein with an apparent molecular weight of 25 kd in SDS-PAGE and with a determined molecular weight of 18.7 kd. Sequenced peptides of the 18.7-kd protein showed over 70% homology to prohevein, a major allergen of NRL, and to many other prohevein-like defense proteins. In ELISA, sera from 30 of 34 (88%) adults and 21 of 26 (81%) children previously shown to have IgE against prohevein bound to the purified protein. In skin prick testing with the protein, 4 of 6 patients allergic to NRL had positive reactions. CONCLUSION: These results demonstrate that activating defense mechanisms of plants may considerably increase their allergen content.[1]


  1. Increased allergen production in turnip (Brassica rapa) by treatments activating defense mechanisms. Hänninen, A.R., Mikkola, J.H., Kalkkinen, N., Turjanmaa, K., Ylitalo, L., Reunala, T., Palosuo, T. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. (1999) [Pubmed]
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