Allergen Structure

Molecular determinants of allergenicity

Allergic patients produce IgE antibodies directed towards specific epitopes located on the surface of allergen molecules.  Our basic research program focuses on the molecular structure and function of allergens from diverse origin (mite, cockroach, pets, foods and molds) and on the identification of antigenic determinants on these allergens by X-ray crystallography and mutagenesis analysis.  Dr. Pomés was awarded an R01 grant by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 2009 and an Administrative Supplement from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funds in 2010 to support this research (Grants).

Indoor Biotechnologies has collaborated with teams of leading structural biologists in interdisciplinary studies which determined the molecular structures of cockroach allergens (Bla g 1 and Bla g 2), dust mite allergens (Der p 1, Der f 1, Der p 5 and Der p 7), the peanut allergen Ara h 2 and the mold allergen from Alternaria, Alt a 1. We have also determined the crystal structure of allergen/monoclonal antibody complexes for Bla g 2, Der f 1, and Der p 1, and the structure and specificity of antibody constructs, including a Bla g 1 specific scFv from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (see Scientific Publications). 

Site-directed mutagenesis of amino acids involved in the allergen-antibody interaction leads to the expression of hypoallergenic mutants to be tested for IgE and T cell reactivity. Identification of amino acids important for IgE antibody binding is used for design of immunotherapeutic vaccines.

Indoor Biotechnologies has collaborated in these studies with structural biologists at the National Cancer Institute (Drs. Alex Wlodawer, Alla Gustchina and Mi Li), the University of Virginia (Dr. Wladek Minor), the University of South Carolina (Drs. Maksymilian Chruszcz) and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (Drs. Geoff Mueller and Lars Pedersen). We also collaborate with Dr. Judith Woodfolk (Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center, University of Virginia) on studies of allergen-specific T cell responses in patients with asthma.
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