Der f 7 and Der p 7 are important house dust mite allergens with known structure and suggested biological function recently. However, their IgE-binding determinants remain unknown. The purpose of this study is to identify the IgE-reactive epitopes of Der f 7 and the determinants of IgE-mediated cross-reactivity between Der f 7 and Der p 7. IgE-reactive determinants were identified by immunodot blot inhibition using synthetic overlapping peptides, allergen mutants, and a Der f 7 structural model. Our results showed that synthetic peptides with sequence (156)SILDP(160) on Der f 7 bind IgE in two of the 30 asthmatic serum samples tested. Recombinant Der f 7 I157A, L158A, or D159A mutants have reduced IgE-binding activity. Inhibition experiments confirmed Asp159 as a critical core residue for IgE-binding. Among Der p 7, Der f 7 and Der f 7 mutants with single substitution between residues 156 and 160, only the D159A mutant cannot inhibit significantly IgE-binding against Der p 7. Therefore, Asp159 contributes to IgE-mediated cross-reactivity between Der f 7 and Der p 7. The structural model constructed for Der f 7 suggests that the IgE-binding epitope forms a loop-like structure on the surface of the molecule. In conclusion, Asp 159 is a critical core residue of an IgE-binding and IgE-mediated cross-reactive epitope (156)SILDP(160) of Der f 7. Results obtained from this study provide more information on molecular and structural features related to allergenicity, underlying basis of IgE cross-reactivity between allergens, and in designing safer immunotherapy.
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