Peanut allergy is an IgE-mediated adverse reaction to a subset of proteins found in peanuts. Immunotherapy aims to desensitize allergic patients through repeated and escalating exposures for several months to years using extracts or flours. The complex mix of proteins and variability between preparations complicates immunotherapy studies. Moreover, peanut immunotherapy is associated with frequent negative side effects and patients are often at risk of allergic reactions once immunotherapy is discontinued. Allergen-specific approaches using recombinant proteins are an attractive alternative because they allow more precise dosing and the opportunity to engineer proteins with improved safety profiles. We tested whether Ara h 1 and Ara h 2, two major peanut allergens, could be produced using chloroplast of the unicellular eukaryotic alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. C. reinhardtii is novel host for producing allergens that is genetically tractable, inexpensive and easy to grow, and is able to produce more complex proteins than bacterial hosts. Compared to the native proteins, algal-produced Ara h 1 core domain and Ara h 2 have a reduced affinity for IgE from peanut-allergic patients. We further found that immunotherapy using algal-produced Ara h 1 core domain confers protection from peanut-induced anaphylaxis in a murine model of peanut allergy.
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