Allergy to Aspergillus-derived enzymes in the baking industry: identification of beta-xylosidase from Aspergillus niger as a new allergen (Asp n 14)

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1998 Aug;102(2):256-64. doi: 10.1016/s0091-6749(98)70109-5.


Background: Aspergillus-derived enzymes are used in dough improvers in bakeries. Some of these enzymes are identified as causing IgE-mediated sensitization in up to 25% of bakers with workplace-related symptoms.

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the frequency of sensitization to Aspergillus xylanase, cellulase, and glucoamylase with the sensitization to alpha-amylase (Asp o 2) and to identify IgE-reactive proteins in enzyme preparations.

Methods: Sensitization to Aspergillus-derived enzymes and cross-reactivity were retrospectively studied by enzyme allergosorbent test (EAST) and EAST-inhibition experiments. IgE-reactive proteins were detected by electrophoretic separation and immunoblotting. Liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and Edman degradation of tryptic protein fragments were used for the biochemical identification of an unknown IgE-binding protein.

Results: Twenty-three percent of 171 tested bakers had specific IgE to alpha-amylase, 8% reacted to glucoamylase, 13% reacted to cellulase, and 11% reacted to xylanase. Xylanase and cellulase preparations, each containing at least 6 different proteins, showed cross-reactivity in the range of 80%. The main IgE-binding protein in the xylanase preparation recognized in 7 of 8 xylanase-positive subjects was a protein of about 105 kd. This protein was identified as beta-xylosidase by peptide mass spectrometric fingerprinting. The identification was confirmed by matching 12 peptide sequences obtained by N-terminal and mass spectrometric sequencing to this protein.

Conclusions: Beta-Xylosidase from Aspergillus niger is an occupational allergen present in currently used baking additives, which causes sensitization in at least 4% of symptomatic bakers. According to the International Union of Immunological Societies nomenclature, we suggest the term Asp n 14 for this allergen.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens / classification
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antigens, Fungal*
  • Antigens, Plant
  • Aspergillus niger / enzymology
  • Aspergillus niger / immunology*
  • Cellulase / immunology
  • Cross Reactions
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Female
  • Food Handling*
  • Glucan 1,4-alpha-Glucosidase / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Occupational Diseases / blood
  • Occupational Diseases / immunology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
  • Xylan Endo-1,3-beta-Xylosidase
  • Xylosidases / chemistry
  • Xylosidases / classification
  • Xylosidases / immunology*
  • alpha-Amylases / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Fungal
  • Antigens, Plant
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Xylosidases
  • alpha-Amylases
  • Glucan 1,4-alpha-Glucosidase
  • Xylan Endo-1,3-beta-Xylosidase
  • Asp n 14 allergen, Aspergillus niger
  • exo-1,4-beta-D-xylosidase
  • Cellulase