B cell epitopes of the major timothy grass pollen allergen, Phl p 1, revealed by gene fragmentation as candidates for immunotherapy

Tanja Ball, Thomas Fuchs, Wolfgang R. Sperr, Peter Valent, Luca Vangelista, Dietrich Kraft, Rudolf Valenta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Group 1 grass pollen allergens are recognized by IgE antibodies of almost 40% of allergic individuals and therefore belong to the most important elicitors of Type I allergy worldwide. We have previously isolated the cDNA coding for the group 1 allergen from timothy grass, Phl p 1, and demonstrated that recombinant Phl p 1 contains most of the B cell as well as T cell epitopes of group 1 allergens from a variety of grass and corn species. Here we determine continuous B cell epitopes of Phl p 1 by gene fragmentation. IgE antibodies of grass pollen allergic patients identified five continuous epitope-containing areas that on an average bound 40% of Phl p 1-specific IgE antibodies and were stably recognized in the course of disease. In contrast to untreated patients, patients undergoing grass pollen immunotherapy started to mount IgG4 antibodies to the recombinant IgE-defined fragments in the course of immunotherapy. The protective role of these IgG4 antibodies is demonstrated by observations that 1) increases in rPhl p 1 fragment-specific IgG4 were in parallel with decreases in Phl p 1-specific IgE, and 2) preincubation of rPhl p 1 with patients sera containing rPhl p 1 fragment- specific IgG4 blocked histamine release from basophils of an untreated grass pollen allergic patient. We propose to use recombinant Phl p 1 fragments for active immunotherapy in order to induce protective IgG responses against IgE epitopes in grass pollen allergic patients. This concept may be applied for the development of allergy vaccines whenever the primary sequence or structure of an allergen is available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1277-1290
Number of pages14
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Allergen gene fragmentation
  • Blocking antibodies
  • Immunotherapy
  • Type I allergy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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