Background: Several alternative mechanisms have been proposed to explain why some proteins are able to induce a T(H)2-biased and IgE-mediated immune response. These include specific interactions with receptors of the innate immune system, proteolytic activities, allergen-associated carbohydrate structures, and intrinsic structural determinants.
Objectives: Available data suggest that a fold-dependent allergy-promoting mechanism could be a driving force for the T(H)2-polarization activity of Bet v 1, the major birch pollen allergen.
Methods: Computer-aided sequence and fold analysis of the Bet v 1 family identified a short stretch susceptible for mutations inducing an altered fold of the entire molecule. With this knowledge, 7 consecutive amino acids of Bet v 1 were replaced with the homologous Mal d 1 sequence, creating the derivative BM4.
Results: The minimal changes of the sequence led to a loss of the Bet v 1-like fold and influenced the immunologic behavior. Compared to wild-type Bet v 1, BM4 induced elevated T-cell proliferation of human PBMCs. In the mouse model, immunization with Bet v 1 absorbed to aluminum hydroxide triggered strong T(H)2 polarization, whereas BM4 immunization additionally recruited T(H)1 cells. Furthermore, the fold variant BM4 showed enhanced uptake by dendritic cells and a decreased susceptibility to endo-/lysosomal proteolysis.
Conclusion: Modifications in the 3-dimensional structure of Bet v 1.0101 resulted in a change of its immunologic properties. We observed that the fold alteration led to a modified crosstalk with dendritic cells and a shift of the immune response polarization toward a mixed T(H)1/T(H)2 cytokine production.
Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.