Pepino mosaic virus infection of tomato affects allergen expression, but not the allergenic potential of fruits

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 7;8(6):e65116. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065116. Print 2013.


The plant pathogen Pepino mosaic virus (PepMV) is a major disease of greenhouse tomato crops worldwide. Plant pathogens can induce expression of defence- or pathogenesis-related proteins, including identified allergens. Therefore we hypothesised that PepMV infection results in the expression of allergens leading to a higher allergenic potential of tomato fruits. Transcript level analyses showed differential expression of 17 known and putative tomato fruit allergen encoding genes at early and late time points after PepMV inoculation, but no general induction was detected. Immunoblot analyses were conducted and IgEs from a serum pool of tomato allergic subjects reacted with 20 proteins, of which ten have not yet been described. In parallel, skin prick tests with a group of tomato allergic subjects did not show a general difference between PepMV infected and non-infected tomato fruits and basophil activation tests confirmed these results. In summary, PepMV infection of tomato plants can lead to long-lasting up-regulation of particular allergens in fruits, but the hypothesis that this results in a higher allergenic potential of the fruits proved invalid.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / genetics*
  • Allergens / metabolism
  • Basophils / immunology
  • Basophils / physiology
  • Cell Degranulation
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Fruit / genetics
  • Fruit / immunology*
  • Fruit / virology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / immunology
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / virology*
  • Mosaic Viruses / physiology*
  • Plant Diseases / immunology
  • Plant Diseases / virology*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism
  • Skin Tests


  • Allergens
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Plant

Grant support

This work was supported by Leibniz association (SAW process) IGZ project number: 23.3.3 ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.