Article

Nomenclature and structural biology of allergens

Christian Doppler Laboratory for Allergy Diagnosis and Therapy, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Impact Factor: 11.25). 03/2007; 119(2):414-20. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2006.11.001
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ABSTRACT Purified allergens are named using the systematic nomenclature of the Allergen Nomenclature Sub-Committee of the World Health Organization and International Union of Immunological Societies. The system uses abbreviated Linnean genus and species names and an Arabic number to indicate the chronology of allergen purification. Most major allergens from mites, animal dander, pollens, insects, and foods have been cloned, and more than 40 three-dimensional allergen structures are in the Protein Database. Allergens are derived from proteins with a variety of biologic functions, including proteases, ligand-binding proteins, structural proteins, pathogenesis-related proteins, lipid transfer proteins, profilins, and calcium-binding proteins. Biologic function, such as the proteolytic enzyme allergens of dust mites, might directly influence the development of IgE responses and might initiate inflammatory responses in the lung that are associated with asthma. Intrinsic structural or biologic properties might also influence the extent to which allergens persist in indoor and outdoor environments or retain their allergenicity in the digestive tract. Analyses of the protein family database suggest that the universe of allergens comprises more than 120 distinct protein families. Structural biology and proteomics define recombinant allergen targets for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and identify motifs, patterns, and structures of immunologic significance.

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