Structural Analysis of Recent Allergen-Antibody Complexes and Future Directions

Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2019 Feb 28;19(3):17. doi: 10.1007/s11882-019-0848-4.


Purpose of review: Allergen-antibody complexes are extremely valuable in describing the detailed molecular features of epitopes. This review summarizes insights gained from recently published co-structures and what obstacles impede the acquisition of further data.

Recent findings: Structural epitope data helped define the epitopes of two anti-Fel d 1 antibodies undergoing phase I clinical trials, providing a greater level of detail than was possible through hydrogen-deuterium exchange protection studies. Separately, a human camelid-like antibody structure with lysozyme described several unique features in a long variable loop that interacted with the active site cleft of Gal d 4. Finally, a co-structure conclusively demonstrated that Phl p 7 could function as a superantigen and that an antibody could simultaneously recognize two epitopes. These remarkable assertions would not have been possible without visualization of the complex. Only three new complexes have appeared in the last few years, suggesting that there are major impediments to traditional production and crystallization. The structural data was extremely valuable in describing epitopes. New techniques like cryo-EM may provide an alternative to crystallography.

Keywords: Allergens; Antibodies; Complex; Crystallography; Epitope; Structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / chemistry*
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / chemistry*
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / immunology
  • Epitopes / chemistry
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Protein Structure, Secondary


  • Allergens
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Epitopes
  • Immunoglobulin E