The involvement of thaumatin-like proteins in plant food cross-reactivity: a multicenter study using a specific protein microarray

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44088. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044088. Epub 2012 Sep 7.


Cross-reactivity of plant foods is an important phenomenon in allergy, with geographical variations with respect to the number and prevalence of the allergens involved in this process, whose complexity requires detailed studies. We have addressed the role of thaumatin-like proteins (TLPs) in cross-reactivity between fruit and pollen allergies. A representative panel of 16 purified TLPs was printed onto an allergen microarray. The proteins selected belonged to the sources most frequently associated with peach allergy in representative regions of Spain. Sera from two groups of well characterized patients, one with allergy to Rosaceae fruit (FAG) and another against pollens but tolerant to food-plant allergens (PAG), were obtained from seven geographical areas with different environmental pollen profiles. Cross-reactivity between members of this family was demonstrated by inhibition assays. Only 6 out of 16 purified TLPs showed noticeable allergenic activity in the studied populations. Pru p 2.0201, the peach TLP (41%), chestnut TLP (24%) and plane pollen TLP (22%) proved to be allergens of probable relevance to fruit allergy, being mainly associated with pollen sensitization, and strongly linked to specific geographical areas such as Barcelona, Bilbao, the Canary Islands and Madrid. The patients exhibited >50% positive response to Pru p 2.0201 and to chestnut TLP in these specific areas. Therefore, their recognition patterns were associated with the geographical area, suggesting a role for pollen in the sensitization of these allergens. Finally, the co-sensitizations of patients considering pairs of TLP allergens were analyzed by using the co-sensitization graph associated with an allergen microarray immunoassay. Our data indicate that TLPs are significant allergens in plant food allergy and should be considered when diagnosing and treating pollen-food allergy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cross Reactions / immunology*
  • Female
  • Food / adverse effects
  • Food Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Fruit / immunology
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Immunoassay
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Weight
  • Plant Proteins / immunology*
  • Plant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Pollen / immunology
  • Protein Array Analysis*
  • Spain
  • Young Adult


  • Plant Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • thaumatin protein, plant

Grant support

Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (project BIO2009-07050) and FIS-Thematic Networks and Co-operative Research Centers: RIRAAF (RD07/0064). C. Gómez Casado and L. Tordesillas were supported by training grants from the Spanish Government (FPI and FPU programmes, MEC, respectively). J. Aguirre was supported by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (project FIS2011-27569) and Comunidad de Madrid, R&D Programme of Activities, grant MODELICO-CM S2009ESP-1691. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection or analysis, the decision to publish, or the preparation of the manuscript.