Thaumatin-like proteins (TLPs) belong to the pathogenesis-related family (PR-5) of plant defense proteins. TLPs from only 32 plant genera have been identified as pollen or food allergens. IgE epitopes on allergens play a central role in food allergy by initiating cross-linking of specific IgE on basophils/mast cells. A comparative analysis of pollen- and food-allergenic TLPs is lacking. The main objective of this investigation was to study the structural and allergenicity features of sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) acidic TLP (TLP 1) by in silico methods. The allergenicity prediction of composite sequence of sapodilla TLP 1 (NCBI B3EWX8.1, G5DC91.1) was performed using FARRP, Allermatch and Evaller web tools. A homology model of the protein was generated using banana TLP template (1Z3Q) by HHPRED-MODELLER. B-cell linear epitope prediction was performed using BCpreds and BepiPred. Sapodilla TLP 1 matched significantly with allergenic TLPs from olive, kiwi, bell pepper and banana. IgE epitope prediction as performed using AlgPred indicated the presence of 2 epitopes (epitope 1: residues 36-48; epitope 2: residues 51-63), and a comprehensive analysis of all allergenic TLPs displayed up to 3 additional epitopes on other TLPs. It can be inferred from these analyses that plant allergenic TLPs generally carry 2-3 IgE epitopes. ClustalX alignments of allergenic TLPs indicate that IgE epitopes 1 and 2 are common in food allergenic TLPs, and IgE epitopes 2 and 3 are common in pollen allergenic TLPs; IgE epitope 2 overlaps with a portion of the thaumatin family signature. The secondary structural elements of TLPs vary markedly in regions 1 and 2 which harbor all the predicted IgE epitopes in all food and pollen TLPs in either of the region. Further, based on the number of IgE epitopes, food TLPs are grouped into rosid and non-rosid clades. The number and distribution of the predicted IgE epitopes among the allergenic TLPs may explain the specificity of food or pollen allergy as well as the varied degree of cross-reactivity among plant foods and/or pollens.
Keywords: B-cell epitope prediction; IgE epitope prediction; Order Ericales; Sapodilla acidic TLP; TLP structural features; Thaumatin-like protein.
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