Background: House dust mites of the Dermatophagoides genus are the most important cause of perennial allergic disease in both humans and companion animals. Although the major mite allergens for humans are proteins of relatively low molecular weight, this is not the case for dogs. Western blotting shows that canine anti-mite IgE responses are directed primarily toward proteins in the molecular weight range of 50 to 120 kd.
Objective: The objectives of this study were to characterize a D farinae allergen with a molecular weight of approximately 60 kd and to isolate the cDNA coding for this allergen.
Methods: A protein of apparent molecular weight of 60 kd was identified by Western blotting by using canine serum IgE from house dust mite-sensitized atopic dogs. The protein was purified from homogenized D farinae mite bodies by ammonium sulfate precipitation, followed by gel filtration and cation exchange HPLC. The presence of IgE directed to the 60-kd protein in sera from humans and dogs with dust mite allergy was measured by FcepsilonRIalpha-based ELISA. A cDNA encoding a full-length 60-kd protein was isolated from a D farinae cDNA library by a combination of both PCR amplification and hybridization screening. A panel of mAbs specific for the 60-kd protein was generated and used to localize the protein in whole body sections of D farinae mites.
Results: ELISA showed that the purified protein bound IgE in 54% of the sera from patients with D farinae allergy. In addition, the 60-kd protein was able to bind IgE in 57% to 77% of D farinae -sensitized dogs. A cDNA was isolated that encoded a protein of 462 amino acids, consisting of a 25 amino acid signal sequence and a 437 amino acid mature protein. The calculated molecular weight of the mature protein is 50 kd, and the amino acid sequence contains a single N-glycosylation site. A protein database search showed homology with multiple chitinases. A mAb specific for the 60-kd chitinase recognized the allergen in the mite digestive system, but fecal pellets did not stain positively for this allergen.
Conclusions: A 60-kd D farinae protein (Der f 18), with homology to chitinase, is a major allergen for humans and dogs sensitive to house dust mites.