As the living cytoplasm of laticiferous cells, Hevea brasiliensis latex is a rich blend of organic substances that include a mélange of proteins. A small number of these proteins have given rise to the problem of latex allergy. The salient characteristics of H. brasiliensis latex allergens that are recognized by the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS) are reviewed. These are the proteins associated with the rubber particles, the cytosolic C-serum proteins and the B-serum proteins that originate mainly from the lutoids. Procedures for the isolation and purification of latex allergens are discussed, from latex collection in the field to various preparative approaches adopted in the laboratory. As interest in recombinant latex allergens increases, there is a need to validate recombinant proteins to ascertain equivalence with their native counterparts when used in immunological studies, diagnostics, and immunotherapy.
Hev b 4 is an allergenic natural rubber latex (NRL) protein complex that is reactive in skin prick tests and in vitro immunoassays. On SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), Hev b 4 is discerned predominantly at 53-55 kDa together with a 57 kDa minor component previously identified as a cyanogenic glucosidase. Of the 13 NRL allergens recognized by the International Union of Immunological Societies, the 53-55 kDa Hev b 4 major protein is the only candidate that lacks complete cDNA and protein sequence information.
We sought to clone the transcript encoding the Hev b 4 major protein, and characterize the native protein and its recombinant form in relation to IgE binding.
The 5'/3' rapid amplification of cDNA ends method was employed to obtain the complete cDNA of the Hev b 4 major protein. A recombinant form of the protein was over-expressed in Escherichia coli. The native Hev b 4 major protein was deglycosylated by trifluoromethane sulphonic acid. Western immunoblots of the native, deglycosylated and recombinant proteins were performed using both polyclonal antibodies and sera from latex-allergic patients.
The cDNA encoding the Hev b 4 major protein was cloned. Its open reading frame matched lecithinases in the conserved domain database and contained 10 predicted glycosylation sites. Detection of glycans on the Hev b 4 lecithinase homologue confirmed it to be a glycoprotein. The deglycosylated lecithinase homologue was discerned at 40 kDa on SDS-PAGE, this being comparable to the 38.53 kDa mass predicted by its cDNA. Deglycosylation of the lecithinase homologue resulted in the loss of IgE recognition, although reactivity to polyclonal rabbit anti-Hev b 4 was retained. IgE from latex-allergic patients also failed to recognize the non-glycosylated E. coli recombinant lecithinase homologue.
The IgE epitopes of the Hev b 4 lecithinase homologue reside mainly in its carbohydrate moiety, which also account for the discrepancy between the observed molecular weight of the protein and the value calculated from its cDNA.
Six Hevea brasiliensis latex protein allergens, Hevb 1, Hev b 2, Hev b 3, Hev b 4, and two variants of Hev b 7 (7b and 7c), were purified from Hevea latex, while a seventh protein, Hev b 5, was prepared in recombinant form. The presence of these proteins in glove extracts was indicated by their respective antibodies in the serum of rabbits immunized against the extracts. The relative propensities of IgE binding to the individual latex allergens were compared using sera from latex-allergic patients. IgE recognition of Hev b 4, Hev b 7b, Hev b 5 and Hev b 2 was most frequently encountered, with 75, 61, 31 and 28%, respectively, of the patient sera reacting. Sensitivity to multiple latex proteins was common, and out of the 31 seropositive patients, 23 (74%/ ) had IgE against at least two latex allergens, while 12 (39%) had IgE specific for at least three allergens. Statistical analysis of the data suggested that many patients might have acquired sensitivity to Hev b 2, Hev b 4 and Hev b 7b from a common source. (e.g., from latex products). On the other hand, sensitivity to Hev b 5 and to Hev b 7c were interrelated. It is plausible that sensitivity to these two proteins might have been acquired from sources other than latex products (e.g., from certain foods).
Spina bifida children have a high prevalence of latex allergy in studies reported from Europe and the USA. This study investigated the prevalence of latex allergy in a cohort of 24 spina bifida children at the Red Cross Children's Hospital from Cape Town, South Africa. The children were investigated using a detailed questionnaire, skin prick tests (ALK-Abello), ImmunoCap RASTs, Western blotting and ELISA, using the purified latex proteins Hev b1 and Hev b3 and whole latex preparation. A low overall prevalence of latex sensitization of 16.7% was found in the children. Children who were sensitive reacted to water insoluble to Hev b1 and Hev b3 proteins. The low prevalence of latex sensitization in the South African children may not be entirely explained by stringent latex avoidance. The children were from a low socioeconomic social status and 'hygiene' and other factors should be considered.
Sensitization to natural rubber latex has been linked to proteins from medical latex gloves. Various assays to estimate the amount of residual allergenic proteins extractable from latex gloves to assess their potential exposure hazard have inherent weaknesses.
This investigation was aimed at developing 2-site immunoenzymetric assays and identifying appropriate protein markers to assess the allergenic potential of latex gloves.
The presence of 6 latex allergens--Hev b 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 13--was measured in a cross-section of commercial latex medical gloves by using monoclonal and polyclonal antibody-based 2-site immunoenzymetric assays. The overall allergenic potential of these gloves was assessed by IgE-inhibition assay. Stepwise multiple regression analyses were performed to identify marker allergens that best explained the variation in latex glove allergenicity.
All 6 latex allergens were detected in at least some of the glove samples. Hev b 5 and Hev b 13 were identified as the marker allergens that combined best to explain the variation in the glove allergenicity. The significant multiple correlation (R=0.855) between these 2 markers and glove allergenic potency forms the basis of an assay to gauge latex glove allergenicity.
The overall allergenic potential of latex gloves can be estimated by using Hev b 5 and Hev b 13 as indicator allergens. The correlation between glove allergenicity and the level of these allergens was maintained for low-protein gloves (<200 microg/g). This estimation of glove allergenicity was superior to that obtained by using total protein readings.
Recurring reports of a highly allergenic 42-46-kDa protein in Hevea brasiliensis latex appeared to have been resolved with the discovery of a 43-kDa allergenic latex protein that was a homologue to patatin. However, the low to moderate prevalence of sensitization to the protein, designated Hev b 7, among latex-allergic patients could not adequately explain the frequent observations of the 42-46-kDa allergen. This led to the hypothesis that another, more allergenic protein of a similar molecular mass existed in Hevea latex. We report the isolation and purification of a 42.98-kDa latex glycoprotein showing homology to the early nodule-specific protein (ENSP) of the legumes Medicago sativa, Medicago truncatula, and Glycine max. The protein is allergenic, being recognized by immunoglobulin E (IgE) in sera from latex-allergic patients. The IgE epitope resides on the carbohydrate moiety of the protein, and the presence of a similar carbohydrate component on potato tuber patatin enables the latter to inhibit IgE binding to the ENSP homologue. The cDNA encoding the ENSP homologue was isolated by reverse transcription-PCR and cloned. The protein predicted from the cDNA sequence has 391 amino acids, the first 26 of which constitute a putative signal peptide. The deduced molecular mass of the mature protein is 40.40 kDa, while its isoelectric point is estimated at 5.0. The discrepancy between the predicted and observed molecular mass might be due to glycosylation, for which three N-sites on the protein are predicted. The purified protein showed lipase and esterase activities and may be involved in plant defense.
Hevea brasiliensis latex serum is commonly used as the in vivo and in vitro reference antigen for latex allergy diagnosis as it contains the full complement of latex allergens.
This study quantifies the concentrations of the significant allergens in latex serum and examines its suitability as an antigen source in latex allergy diagnosis and immunotherapy.
The serum phase was extracted from centrifuged latex that was repeatedly freeze-thawed or glycerinated. Quantitation of latex allergens was performed by two-site immunoenzymetric assays. The abundance of RNA transcripts of the latex allergens was estimated from the number of their clones in an Expressed Sequence Tags library.
The latex allergens, Hev b 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 13, were detected in freeze-thawed and glycerinated latex serum at levels ranging from 75 (Hev b 6) to 0.06 nmol/mg total proteins (Hev b 4). Hev b 6 content in the latex was up to a thousand times higher than the other seven latex allergens, depending on source and/or preparation procedure. Allergen concentration was reflected in the abundance of mRNA transcripts. When used as the antigen, latex serum may bias the outcome of latex allergy diagnostic tests towards sensitization to Hev b 6. Tests that make use of latex serum may fail to detect latex-specific IgE reactivity in subjects who are sensitized only to allergens that are present at low concentrations.
Latex allergy diagnostics and immunotherapy that use whole latex serum as the antigen source may not be optimal because of the marked imbalance of its constituent allergens.