The Shape of Allergenic Proteins

A team of researchers has discovered that many of the plant proteins that cause allergies have similar shapes.

In order to find out the significance of shape, the researchers used computer modelling to look at the structure of 129 common food allergens. Then they classified the molecules by shape. It turned out that 129 allergens belonged to only 20 or 3849 possible protein "families" in the plant world, and 2/3 of allergens actually came from only 4 families.

The next step will be to catalogue the structures of other allergenic proteins in an attempt to understand how different shapes are related to the triggering of certain immune responses.

October 2004
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

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