Immunological and biophysical characterization of major and minor allergens in fish, crustacean and mollusk
Discovery of allergens in various food and inhalant sources is central to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of allergic reactions. Allergen characterization is the most important underlying factor for better patient management through specific diagnostics and the design and development of novel immunotherapeutics. Of the ‘‘Big eight’’ allergen food groups, fish and shellfish present a unique challenge in terms of allergen discovery due to the large number and diversity of consumed species, leading to heterogeneity of allergen structure and cross-reactivity among various sources. Co-sensitization and clinical cross-reactivity of patients with fish, crustacean and/or mollusk allergy is often described; however, the current diagnostic approaches to manage these patients are not based on sufficient molecular knowledge of these seafood allergens.
Through our detailed molecular studies on over 160 seafood species in our laboratory, and the analysis of IgE antibody binding patters of over 300 patients, we are able to identify and characterize a range of allergenic proteins of clinical importance. At present we have identified and purified over 15 allergenic proteins from different fish species, including parvalbumin, aldolase, enolase, collagen and vitellogenin. Among the different shellfish (crustacean and mollusk) species we identified and purified over 20 allergenic proteins, including tropomyosin, myosin light chain, sarcoplasmic binding protein and arginine kinase.
Our laboratory has officially registered 10 fully characterized seafood allergens with the World Health Organization and International Union of Immunological Societies Allergen Nomenclature Database.