Charting novel allergens from date palm pollen (Phoenix sylvestris) using homology driven proteomics

J Proteomics. 2017 Aug 8;165:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2017.05.021. Epub 2017 May 20.


Pollen grains from Phoenix sylvestris (date palm), a commonly cultivated tree in India has been found to cause severe allergic diseases in an increasing percentage of hypersensitive individuals. To unearth its allergenic components, pollen protein were profiled by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis followed by immunoblotting with date palm pollen sensitive patient sera. Allergens were identified by MALDI-TOF/TOF employing a layered proteomic approach combining conventional database dependent search and manual de novo sequencing followed by homology-based search as Phoenix sylvestris is unsequenced. Derivatization of tryptic peptides by acetylation has been demonstrated to differentiate the 'b' from the 'y' ions facilitating efficient de novo sequencing. Ten allergenic proteins were identified, out of which six showed homology with known allergens while others were reported for the first time. Amongst these, isoflavone reductase, beta-conglycinin, S-adenosyl methionine synthase, 1, 4 glucan synthase and beta-galactosidase were commonly reported as allergens from coconut pollen and presumably responsible for cross-reactivity. One of the allergens had IgE binding epitope recognized by its glycan moiety. The allergenic potency of date palm pollen has been demonstrated using in vitro tests. The identified allergens can be used to develop vaccines for immunotherapy against date palm pollen allergy.

The significance of the study: Identification of allergenic proteins from sources harboring them is essential in developing therapeutic interventions. This is the first comprehensive study on the identification of allergens from Phoenix sylvestris (date palm) pollen, one of the major aeroallergens in India using a proteomic approach. Proteomic methods are being increasingly used to identify allergens. However, since many of these proteins arise from species which are un-sequenced, it becomes difficult to interpret those using conventional proteomics. Date palm being an unsequenced species, the IgE-reactive proteins have been identified using a stratified proteomic workflow incorporating manual de novo sequencing and homology-based proteomics. This study also gives an insight into the presence of glycan nature of the IgE binding epitopes. Five proteins have been found to be common with coconut pollen allergens and presumably responsible for cross-reactivity. These can be used in diagnostics to differentiate patient cohorts allergic to both coconut and date palm pollen from true date palm pollen allergic subjects. This would also determine better specific immunotherapy regimes between the two cohorts. The allergens identified herein have potential towards vaccine development in date palm pollen allergy as well as in enriching the existing catalogue of allergenic proteins.

Keywords: Allergen; Cross-reactivity; Date palm; De novo sequencing; Pollen; Proteomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Plant / analysis
  • Antigens, Plant / chemistry
  • Antigens, Plant / immunology*
  • Cocos / immunology
  • Cross Reactions / immunology
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Immunoblotting
  • Phoeniceae / immunology*
  • Plant Proteins / analysis
  • Plant Proteins / blood
  • Plant Proteins / immunology
  • Pollen / chemistry*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Antigens, Plant
  • Plant Proteins