Non-specific lipid transfer proteins belonging to LTP1 family represent the most important allergens for non pollen-related allergies to Rosaceae fruits in the Mediterranean area. Peach LTP1 (Pru p 3) is a major allergen and is considered the prototypic allergenic LTP. On the contrary, pear allergy without pollinosis seems to be under-reported when compared to other Rosaceae fruits suggesting that the as-yet-uncharacterized pear LTP1 (Pyr c 3) has in vivo a low allergenicity. We report here on the identification of four cDNAs encoding for LTP1 in pear fruits. The two isoforms exhibiting amino acid sequences most similar to those of peach and apple homologues were obtained as recombinant proteins. Such isoforms exhibited CD spectra and lipid binding ability typical of LTP1 family. Moreover, pear LTP1 mRNA was mainly found in the peel, as previously shown for other Rosaceae fruits. By means of IgE ELISA assays a considerable immunoreactivity of these proteins to LTP-sensitive patient sera was detected, even though allergic reactions after ingestion of pear were not reported in the clinical history of the patients. Finally, the abundance of LTP1 in protein extracts from pear peel, in which LTP1 from Rosaceae fruits is mainly confined, was estimated to be much lower as compared to peach peel. Our data suggest that the two isoforms of pear LTP1 characterized in this study possess biochemical features and IgE-binding ability similar to allergenic LTPs. Their low concentrations in pear might be the cause of the low frequency of LTP-mediated pear allergy.
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