Expression, production and excretion of Bla g 1, a major human allergen, in relation to food intake in the German cockroach, Blattella germanica

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The German cockroach, Blattella germanica (Linnaeus) (Dictyoptera: Blattellidae), produces several potent human allergens, one of which, Blattella germanica allergen 1 (Bla g 1), is produced in the midgut and excreted in faeces. We tested with descriptive and experimental approaches the hypothesis that Bla g 1 production is related to food intake in adult males and females of the German cockroach. Bla g 1 mRNA expression in the female midgut (assayed by real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction), her Bla g 1 content (assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), and the female's faeces production and its Bla g 1 content tracked a cyclic pattern in relation to the gonadotrophic cycle. All four measures rose as food intake increased, declined before oviposition in relation to diminishing food intake, and remained low while the female carried an egg case for 20 days. After her first clutch of embryos hatched, the female resumed feeding, and faeces and Bla g 1 production increased concomitantly. Both Bla g 1 mRNA expression and Bla g 1 protein levels remained low in experimentally starved females. However, when starved females were allowed to feed, Bla g 1 production elevated and the gonadotrophic cycle resumed. Bla g 1 mRNA expression also increased six-fold in response to feeding compared to starved females. By contrast, there were no apparent cycles in the pattern of Bla g 1 production in males, reflecting their low and non-cyclic food intake. Our results therefore demonstrate that Bla g 1 production in B. germanica is modulated in relation to food intake.

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