Structural and Dynamic Properties of Allergen and Non-Allergen Forms of Tropomyosin

Jose K. James, Douglas H. Pike, I. John Khan, Vikas Nanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


To what extent do structural and biophysical features of food allergen proteins distinguish them from other proteins in our diet? Invertebrate tropomyosins (Tpms) as a class are considered “pan-allergens,” inducing food allergy to shellfish and respiratory allergy to dust mites. Vertebrate Tpms are not known to elicit allergy or cross-reactivity, despite their high structural similarity and sequence identity to invertebrate homologs. We expect allergens are sufficiently stable against gastrointestinal proteases to survive for immune sensitization in the intestines, and that proteolytic stability will correlate with thermodynamic stability. Thermal denaturation of shrimp Tpm shows that it is more stable than non-allergen vertebrate Tpm. Shrimp Tpm is also more resistant to digestion. Molecular dynamics uncover local dynamics that select epitopes and global differences in flexibility between shrimp and pig Tpm that discriminate allergens from non-allergens. Molecular determinants of allergenicity depend not only on sequence but on contributions of protein structure and dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)997-1006.e5
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


  • coiled coil
  • food allergy
  • mass spectrometry
  • molecular dynamics
  • tropomyosin


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