Background: New and more successful approaches to diagnosis and therapy of allergic diseases require a more subtle understanding of the structure and the epitopes on the allergen molecule.
Objective: This study was done to obtain more information on the structure and the IgE-binding epitopes of a major allergen of velvet grass pollen, Hol l 1.
Methods: We cloned Hol l 1 from a complementary DNA library and performed B-cell epitope mapping with 21 recombinant fragments expressed as fusion proteins in Escherichia coli. The fragments were analyzed by Western blotting with sera from 50 different patients.
Results: The patients' sera individually recognized at least four different IgE-binding regions (amino acids 1 to 27, 61 to 76, 84 to 105, and 158 to 240). According to their binding patterns with these epitopes, they were divided into five groups. Most sera (92%) bound to the C-terminal peptide (158 to 240), which consists of more than 80 amino acids, whereas there was virtually no binding to smaller fragments covering this region. In contrast to the C-terminal peptide, the IgE-binding peptides on the N terminus and on the middle region of the molecule were of a smaller size (15 to 30 amino acids).
Conclusions: The major group I allergen of velvet grass bears at least four different IgE-binding epitopes, which were individually recognized by sera from different patients. The C terminus represents the major IgE-binding region and contains at least one discontinuous IgE-binding epitope, whereas the N terminus and middle region of Hol l 1 seem to contain continuous IgE-binding epitopes.