Abundance and Functional Roles of Intrinsic Disorder in Allergenic Proteins and Allergen Representative Peptides

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The pathological process of allergies generally involves an initial activation of certain immune cells, tied to an ensuing inflammatory reaction on renewed contact with the allergen. In IgE-mediated hypersensitivity, this typically occurs in response to otherwise harmless food- or air-borne proteins. As some members of certain protein families carry special properties that make them allergenic, exploring protein allergens at the molecular level is instrumental to an improved understanding of the disease mechanisms, including the identification of relevant antigen features. For this purpose, we inspected a previously identified set of allergen representative peptides (ARPs) to scrutinize protein intrinsic disorder. The resulting study presented here focused on the association between these ARPs and protein intrinsic disorder. In addition, the connection between the disorder-enriched ARPs and UniProt functional keywords was considered. Our analysis revealed that ∼ 20% of the allergen peptides are highly disordered, and that ∼ 77% of ARPs are either located within disordered regions of corresponding allergenic proteins or show more disorder/flexibility than their neighbor regions. Furthermore, among the subset of allergenic proteins, ∼ 70% of the predicted molecular recognition features (MoRFs that consist of short interactive disordered regions undergoing disorder-to-order transitions at interaction with binding partners) were identified as ARPs. These results suggest that intrinsic disorder and MoRFs may play functional roles in IgE-mediated allergy. Proteins 2011; © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics, v. 79, issue 9, p. 2595-2606