The use of recombinant allergens is a promising approach in allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT). Considerable limitation, however, has been the ability of recombinant allergens to activate effector cells leading to allergic reactions. Recombinant hypoallergens with preserved protein folding and capacity to induce protective IgG antibodies binding effectively to the native allergen upon sensitization would be beneficial for safer AIT. In this study, hypoallergen variants of the major horse allergen Equ c 1 were designed by introducing one point mutation on the putative IgE epitope region and two mutations on the monomer-monomer interface of Equ c 1 dimer. The recombinant Equ c 1 wild type and the variants were produced and purified to homogeneity, characterized by size-exclusion ultra-high performance liquid chromatography and ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry. The IgE-binding profiles were analyzed by a competitive immunoassay and the biological activity by a histamine release assay using sera from horse allergic individuals. Two Equ c 1 variants, Triple 2 (V47K + V110E + F112K) and Triple 3 (E21Y + V110E + F112K) showed lower allergen-specific IgE-binding capacity and decreased capability to release histamine from basophils in vitro when using sera from six allergic individuals. Triple 3 showed higher reduction than Triple 2 in IgE-binding (5.5 fold) and in histamine release (15.7 fold) compared to wild type Equ c 1. Mutations designed on the putative IgE epitope region and monomer-monomer interface of Equ c 1 resulted in decreased dimerization, a lower IgE-binding capacity and a reduced triggering of an allergic response in vitro.
Haka, J., Niemi, M. H., Mattila, P., Jänis, J., Takkinen, K., & Rouvinen, J. (2019). Development of hypoallergenic variants of the major horse allergen Equ c 1 for immunotherapy by rational structure based engineering. Scientific Reports, 9(1), . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-56812-1