Protein structure discovery lays foundation for dog allergy vaccine

Japanese scientists studying the possibility of a vaccine for people with allergies to dogs have made a significant breakthrough by identifying for the first time the crystal structure of a protein at the heart of the majority of canine allergies. The new understanding of this protein has enabled researchers to refine their search for protein components that trigger the immune response characteristic of these allergic reactions, thus bringing the prospect of a vaccine closer.

Scientists have so far identified seven types of allergens that cause allergic reactions in dogs in humans. These molecules bind to antibodies via short sequences of amino acids called epitopes, which are part of a protein that induces the immune response. These epitopes bind to antibody receptors called paratopes, like a pair of puzzle pieces, and the one found only in mammals that plays a key role in their allergies is known as the IgE paratope.

Of the seven different types of allergens – called Canis familiaris 1 through 7 (Can f 1-7) allergens – the one called Can f 1 found in the tissue of the tongue, salivary glands and skin of dogs is at the origin of the majority of allergic reactions in humans. , representing between 50 and 75 percent of them. As part of the efforts to develop a vaccine against canine allergies, the hunt is on to identify the IgE epitope within the Can f 1 protein.

“We want to be able to present small doses of these epitopes to the immune system to train it to manage them, like the principle of any vaccine”, explains Takashi Inui, specialist in allergy research, professor at the University. from Osaka Prefecture and a lead author of the study. “But we can’t do that without first identifying the Can f 1 IgE epitope.”

Using x-ray crystallography, Inui and his colleagues were able to identify for the first time the crystal structure of the complete Can f 1 protein. At first glance, the protein’s folding pattern was very similar to that of three of the other proteins identified previously, but with some differences in the location of surface electrical charges.

This important difference presents a set of “residues” which are good candidates for the IgE isotope. While this is a promising step forward, scientists note that more work is needed to further refine these candidates, but suggest that a dog allergy vaccine is within reach. They also say that producing one in this way, taking advantage of the epitopes, may well offer a model for better defenses against a range of allergies.

The research was published in the journal Federation of European Biochemical Societies.

Source: Osaka Prefecture University

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