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Removal and Replacement of Endogenous Ligands from Lipid-Bound Proteins and Allergens

Alexander C. Y. Foo1, Peter M. Thompson1, Geoffrey A. Mueller1


Many major allergens bind to hydrophobic lipid-like molecules, including Mus m 1, Bet v 1, Der p 2, and Fel d 1. These ligands are strongly retained and have the potential to influence the sensitization process either through directly stimulating the immune system or altering the biophysical properties of the allergenic protein. In order to control for these variables, techniques are required for the removal of endogenously bound ligands and, if necessary, replacement with lipids of known composition. The cockroach allergen Bla g 1 encloses a large hydrophobic cavity which binds a heterogeneous mixture of endogenous lipids when purified using traditional techniques. Here, we describe a method through which these lipids are removed using reverse-phase HPLC followed by thermal annealing to yield Bla g 1 in either its Apo-form or reloaded with a user-defined mixture of fatty acid or phospholipid cargoes. Coupling this protocol with biochemical assays reveal that fatty acid cargoes significantly alter the thermostability and proteolytic resistance of Bla g 1, with downstream implications for the rate of T-cell epitope generation and allergenicity. These results highlight the importance of lipid removal/reloading protocols such as the one described herein when studying allergens from both recombinant and natural sources. The protocol is generalizable to other allergen families including lipocalins (Mus m 1), PR-10 (Bet v 1), MD-2 (Der p 2) and Uteroglobin (Fel d 1), providing a valuable tool to study the role of lipids in the allergic response.

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