Alternaria alternata allergen Alt a 1: A unique β-barrel protein dimer found exclusively in fungi

Maksymilian Chruszcz, Martin D. Chapman, Tomasz Osinski, Robert Solberg, Matthew Demas, Przemyslaw J. Porebski, Karolina A. Majorek, Anna Pomés, Wladek Minor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Background: Alternaria species is one of the most common molds associated with allergic diseases, and 80% of Alternaria species-sensitive patients produce IgE antibodies to a major protein allergen, Alt a 1. The structure and function of Alt a 1 is unknown. Objective: We sought to obtain a high-resolution structure of Alt a 1 using x-ray crystallography and to investigate structural relationships between Alt a 1 and other allergens and proteins reported in the Protein Data Bank. Methods: X-ray crystallography was used to determine the structure of Alt a 1 by using a custom-designed set of crystallization conditions. An initial Alt a 1 model was determined by the application of a Ta6Br12 2+ cluster and single-wavelength anomalous diffraction. Bioinformatic analyses were used to compare the Alt a 1 sequence and structure with that of other proteins. Results: Alt a 1 is a unique β-barrel comprising 11 β-strands and forms a "butterfly- like" dimer linked by a single disulfide bond with a large (1345 Å2) dimer interface. Intramolecular disulfide bonds are conserved among Alt a 1 homologs. Currently, the Alt a 1 structure has no equivalent in the Protein Data Bank. Bioinformatics analyses suggest that the structure is found exclusively in fungi. Four previously reported putative IgE-binding peptides have been located on the Alt a 1 structure. Conclusions: Alt a 1 has a unique, dimeric β-barrel structure that appears to define a new protein family with unknown function found exclusively in fungi. The location of IgE antibody-binding epitopes is in agreement with the structural analysis of Alt a 1. The Alt a 1 structure will allow mechanistic structure/function studies and immunologic studies directed toward new forms of immunotherapy for Alternaria species-sensitive allergic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-247.e9
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Alt a 1
  • Alternaria species
  • Asthma
  • allergens
  • molds
  • oligomeric structure
  • protein structure
  • x-ray crystallography


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