In silico assessment of the potential allergenicity of transgenes used for the development of GM food crops

Food Chem Toxicol. 2012 May;50(5):1334-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2012.02.005. Epub 2012 Feb 14.


Genetically modified (GM) crops require allergenicity and toxicity assessment of the novel protein(s) to ensure complete safety to the consumers. These assessments are performed in accordance with the guidelines proposed by Codex (2003) and ICMR (2008). The guidelines recommend sequence homology analysis as a preliminary step towards allergenicity prediction, later in vitro experiments may be performed to confirm allergenicity. In the present study, an in silico approach is employed to evaluate the allergenic potential of six transgenes routinely used for the development of GM food crops. Among the genes studied, manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) and osmotin shares greater than 90% identity with Hev b 10 and Cap a 1w, respectively. Chitinase shares greater than 70% identity with allergens namely Pers a 1 and Hev b 11, and fungal chitinase showed significant IgE binding with 7 of 75 patients' sera positive to different food extracts. Glucanases (alfalfa, wheat) and glycine betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase gene share 50% homology with allergens like - Ole e 9, Cla h 10 and Alt a 10. The results demonstrate the allergenic potential of six genes and can serve as a guide for selection of transgenes to develop GM crops.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Betaine-Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Chitinases / genetics
  • Crops, Agricultural / enzymology
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics*
  • Crops, Agricultural / immunology
  • Glucan 1,3-beta-Glucosidase / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Transgenes*


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Betaine-Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • Chitinases
  • Glucan 1,3-beta-Glucosidase
  • beta-1,3-exoglucanase