Bioinformatic screening and detection of allergen cross-reactive IgE-binding epitopes

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Protein allergens can be related by cross-reactivity. Allergens that share relevant sequence can cross-react, those lacking sufficient similarity in their IgE antibody-binding epitopes do not cross-react. Cross-reactivity is based on shared epitopes that is based on shared sequence and higher level structure (charge and shape). Epitopes are important in predicting cross-reactivity potential and may provide the potential to establish criteria that identify homology among allergens. Selected allergen's IgE-binding epitope sequences were used to determine how the FASTA algorithm could be used to identify a threshold of significance. A statistical measure (expectation value, E-value) was used to identify a threshold specific to identifying cross-reactivity potential. Peanut Ara h 1 and Ara h 2, shrimp tropomyosin Pen a 1, and birch tree pollen allergen, Bet v 1 were sources of known epitopes. Each epitope or set of epitopes was inserted into random amino acid sequence to create hypothetical proteins used as queries to an allergen database. Alignments with allergens were noted for the ability to match the epitope's source allergen as well as any cross-reactive or other homologous allergens. A FASTA expectation value range (1 × 10−5–1 × 10−6) was identified that could act as a threshold to help identify cross-reactivity potential.

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