To date, very little data are available about the nature of tomato allergens. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) cross-reactive profilins have been suggested to account for allergic symptoms in patients suffering from tomato allergy.
The cDNA of tomato profilin was amplified by reversely transcribed polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from total RNA extracted from ripe tomato fruit. The gene was cloned into the pET101D expression plasmid and the protein was produced in Escherichia coli BL21. Purification was performed via poly-l-proline (PLP) affinity chromatography. IgE reactivity of recombinant tomato profilin was investigated by immunoblot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. IgE-inhibition studies were performed to analyse cross-reactivity with other profilins. To determine the allergenic activity of the recombinant protein, basophil histamine release assays using sera of patients with adverse reactions to tomato were performed.
Profilin was identified as a new minor allergen in tomato fruits. The recombinant tomato profilin comprises 131 amino acids and high sequence identity to other allergenic food and pollen profilins. It was shown to be IgE-reactive with a prevalence of 22% (11/50) in tomato-allergic patients. In patients with tomato allergy and multiple sensitization to other foods and birch pollen, IgE directed against tomato profilin showed a strong cross-reactivity with profilins from plant food sources and birch pollen. The tomato profilin was able to induce mediator release from human basophils.
The tomato profilin is a minor allergen in tomato fruit. Thus, it shows biological activity, as confirmed by in vitro histamine release assays with human basophils and thereby has the potential to account for clinical symptoms in tomato-allergic patients.