Background: Exposure to dietary wheat proteins in genetically susceptible individuals has been associated with increased risk for the development of Type 1 diabetes (T1D). Recently, a wheat protein encoded by cDNA WP5212 has been shown to be antigenic in mice, rats and humans with autoimmune T1D. To investigate the genomic origin of the identified wheat protein cDNA, a hexaploid wheat genomic library from Glenlea cultivar was screened.
Results: Three unique wheat globulin genes, Glo-3A, Glo3-B and Glo-3C, were identified. We describe the genomic structure of these genes and their expression pattern in wheat seeds. The Glo-3A gene shared 99% identity with the cDNA of WP5212 at the nucleotide and deduced amino acid level, indicating that we have identified the gene(s) encoding wheat protein WP5212. Southern analysis revealed the presence of multiple copies of Glo-3-like sequences in all wheat samples, including hexaploid, tetraploid and diploid species wheat seed. Aleurone and embryo tissue specificity of WP5212 gene expression, suggested by promoter region analysis, which demonstrated an absence of endosperm specific cis elements, was confirmed by immunofluorescence microscopy using anti-WP5212 antibodies.
Conclusion: Taken together, the results indicate that a diverse group of globulins exists in wheat, some of which could be associated with the pathogenesis of T1D in some susceptible individuals. These data expand our knowledge of specific wheat globulins and will enable further elucidation of their role in wheat biology and human health.