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Original Article


Immunoglobulin E Reactivity and Allergenic Potency of Morus papyrifera (Paper Mulberry) Pollen


S Micheal,1,2,3 A Wangorsch,2 S Wolfheimer,2 K Foetisch,2 K Minhas,1 S Scheurer,2 A Ahmed1

1Department of Biosciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan
2Division of Allergology, Recombinant Allergen Therapeutics Section, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Langen, Germany
3Department of Ophthalmology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2013; Vol. 23(3): 168-175



Background: Paper mulberry (Morus papyrifera) pollen is considered to be one of the most clinically relevant aeroallergens in Pakistan. To date, the allergenicity of the pollen has not been investigated.

Objective: To characterize the sensitization profile of mulberry-allergic patients and the proteins of paper mulberry pollen contributing to pollinosis in the Pakistani population.

Methods: Proteins were extracted from mulberry pollen using different protocols. Immunoglobulin (Ig) E binding proteins to mulberry pollen was determined by ImmunoCAP testing and immunoblotting using sera from 29 mulberry pollen–allergic patients with positive skin prick test results to mulberry pollen antigens. The histamine release assay was performed in vitro to determine the allergenic potency of pollen extracts and a partially purified mulberry pollen allergen. The protein was identified using N-terminal sequencing and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization–time of flight spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/TOF).

Results: IgE sensitization to mulberry pollen was confirmed by positive ImmunoCAP results to pollen from Morus alba (white mulberry) in 23 out of 29 mulberry pollen–allergic patients. A 10-kDa protein from the paper mulberry pollen extract was considered a major allergen, along with additional IgE-reactive proteins. Sera from 79% of the patients reacted to the 10-kDa allergen, which showed substantial capacity to trigger histamine
release in 3 out of 4 patients. N-terminal sequencing and MALDI-TOF/TOF yielded an amino acid sequence with no homology to known proteins.

Conclusions: Mulberry-allergic patients are sensitized to multiple mulberry pollen allergens. We identified a novel 10-kDa protein that was a major allergen and should be further investigated for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Key words: Allergen. Histamine. IgE. Morus papyrifera. Pollen. Identification. Novel. Immunoblotting. Protein. Mulberry.