Allergenicity assessment of the papaya ringspot virus coat protein expressed in transgenic rainbow papaya.
ABSTRACT The virus-resistant, transgenic commercial papaya Rainbow and SunUp (Carica papaya L.) have been consumed locally in Hawaii and elsewhere in the mainland United States and Canada since their release to planters in Hawaii in 1998. These papaya are derived from transgenic papaya line 55-1 and carry the coat protein (CP) gene of papaya ringspot virus (PRSV). The PRSV CP was evaluated for potential allergenicity, an important component in assessing the safety of food derived from transgenic plants. The transgene PRSV CP sequence of Rainbow papaya did not exhibit greater than 35% amino acid sequence homology to known allergens, nor did it have a stretch of eight amino acids found in known allergens which are known common bioinformatic methods used for assessing similarity to allergen proteins. PRSV CP was also tested for stability in simulated gastric fluid and simulated intestinal fluid and under various heat treatments. The results showed that PRSV CP was degraded under conditions for which allergenic proteins relative to nonallergens are purported to be stable. The potential human intake of transgene-derived PRSV CP was assessed by measuring CP levels in Rainbow and SunUp along with estimating the fruit consumption rates and was compared to potential intake estimates of PRSV CP from naturally infected nontransgenic papaya. Following accepted allergenicity assessment criteria, our results show that the transgene-derived PRSV CP does not pose a risk of food allergy.