Non-Specific Lipid Transfer Protein Amb a 6 Is a Source-Specific Important Allergenic Molecule in Ragweed Pollen

Manuela Grijincu, Gabriela Tănasie, Lauriana-Eunice Zbîrcea, Maria-Roxana Buzan, Tudor-Paul Tamaș, Monica-Daniela Cotarcă, Ioan Huțu, Elijahu Babaev, Frank Stolz, Yulia Dorofeeva, Rudolf Valenta, Virgil Păunescu, Carmen Panaitescu, Kuan-Wei Chen

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article


Pollen from common ragweed is an important allergen source worldwide and especially in western and southern Romania. More than 100 million patients suffer from symptoms of respiratory allergy (e.g., rhinitis, asthma) to ragweed pollen. Among the eleven characterized allergens, Amb a 6 is a non-specific lipid transfer protein (nsLTP). nsLTPs are structurally stable proteins in pollen and food from different unrelated plants capable of inducing severe reactions. The goal of this study was to produce Amb a 6 as a recombinant and structurally folded protein (rAmb a 6) and to characterize its physicochemical and immunological features. rAmb a 6 was expressed in Spodoptera frugiperda Sf9 cells as a secreted protein and characterized by mass spectrometry and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy regarding molecular mass and fold, respectively. The IgE-binding frequency towards the purified protein was evaluated using sera from 150 clinically well-characterized ragweed-allergic patients. The allergenic activities of rAmb a 6 and the nsLTP from the weed Parietaria judaica (Par j 2) were evaluated in basophil activation assays. rAmb a 6-specific IgE reactivity was associated with clinical features. Pure rAmb a 6 was obtained by insect cell expression. Its deduced molecular weight corresponded to that determined by mass spectrometry (i.e., 10,963 Da). rAmb a 6 formed oligomers as determined by SDS-PAGE under non-reducing conditions. According to multiple sequence comparisons, Amb a 6 was a distinct nsLTP with less than 40% sequence identity to currently known plant nsLTP allergens, except for nsLTP from Helianthus (i.e., 52%). rAmb a 6 is an important ragweed allergen recognized by 30% of ragweed pollen allergic patients. For certain patients, rAmb a 6-specific IgE levels were higher than those specific for the major ragweed allergen Amb a 1 and analysis also showed a higher allergenic activity in the basophil activation test. rAmb a 6-positive patients suffered mainly from respiratory symptoms. The assumption that Amb a 6 is a source-specific ragweed allergen is supported by the finding that none of the patients showing rAmb a 6-induced basophil activation reacted with Par j 2 and only one rAmb a 6-sensitized patient had a history of plant food allergy. Immunization of rabbits with rAmb a 6 induced IgG antibodies which strongly inhibited IgE binding to rAmb a 6. Our results demonstrate that Amb a 6 is an important source-specific ragweed pollen allergen that should be considered for diagnosis and allergen-specific immunotherapy of ragweed pollen allergy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6513
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2024


  • Humans
  • Allergens/immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E/immunology
  • Antigens, Plant/immunology
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins/immunology
  • Plant Proteins/immunology
  • Female
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal/immunology
  • Male
  • Adult
  • Ambrosia/immunology
  • Spodoptera/immunology
  • Recombinant Proteins/immunology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Sf9 Cells
  • Middle Aged
  • Plant Extracts


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