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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biochemistry - Chemistry - Immunology - Pharmacology - Respiratory Medicine

Identification of Critical Amino Acids in an Immunodominant IgE Epitope of Pen c 13, a Major Allergen from Penicillium citrinum
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Author: Jui-Chieh Chen et al.

by Jui-Chieh Chen, Li-Li Chiu, Kuang-Lun Lee, Wei-Ning Huang, Jiing-Guang Chuang, Hsin-Kai Liao, Lu-Ping Chow


Pen c 13, identified as a 33-kDa alkaline serine protease, is a major allergen secreted by Penicillium citrinum. Detailed knowledge about the epitopes responsible for IgE binding would help inform the diagnosis/prognosis of fungal allergy and facilitate the rational design of hypoallergenic candidate vaccines. The goal of the present study was to characterize the IgE epitopes of Pen c 13.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Serum samples were collected from 10 patients with mold allergy and positive Pen c 13 skin test results. IgE-binding epitopes on rPen c 13 were mapped using an enzymatic digestion and chemical cleavage method, followed by dot-blotting and mass spectrometry. A B-cell epitope-predicting server and molecular modeling were used to predict the residues most likely involved in IgE binding. Theoretically predicted IgE-binding regions were further confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis assays. At least twelve different IgE-binding epitopes located throughout Pen c 13 were identified. Of these, peptides S16 (A148–E166) and S22 (A243–K274) were recognized by sera from 90% and 100% of the patients tested, and were further confirmed by inhibition assays. Peptide S22 was selected for further analysis of IgE-binding ability. The results of serum screening showed that the majority of IgE-binding ability resided in the C-terminus. One Pen c 13 mutant, G270A (T261–K274), exhibited clearly enhanced IgE reactivity, whereas another, K274A, exhibited dramatically reduced IgE reactivity.


Experimental analyses confirmed in silico-predicted residues involved in an important antigenic region of Pen c 13. The G270A mutant of Pen c 13 has the potential to serve as an additional tool for the diagnosis/prognosis of mold allergy, and the K274A mutant, as a hypoallergenic form of the epitope, may provide a framework for the design and development of a safe and efficient therapeutic strategy for treating human allergic diseases.