The Identification and Characterization of Immunoreactive Fungal Proteins Recognized by Sera from Zimbabweans Sensitized to Fungi

Lorraine Tsitsi Pfavayi, Richard Burchmore, Elopy Nimele Sibanda, Stephen Baker, Mark Woolhouse, Takafira Mduluza, Francisca Mutapi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Exposure to fungal allergens poses a serious threat to human health, especially to mould-allergic individuals. The prevalence of fungal allergic disease is increasing globally but is poorly studied in Africa. Here, we aimed to identify and characterize fungal proteins that were immunoreactive against serum samples from fungal-sensitized Zimbabweans from Shamva district to inform the development of diagnostics and therapeutics.

METHODS: Crude protein extracts of the Ascomycota Aspergillus fumigatus, Alternaria alternata, Cladosporium herbarum, Epicoccum nigrum, Penicillium chrysogenum, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae as well as mucoromycota Rhizopus nigricans were individually separated by one-dimensional gel electrophoresis for protein staining and immunoblotting. A pool of eight sera from fungi-sensitive Zimbabwean children aged 3-5 years was used to screen the crude extracts to determine their immunoreactivity. Protein bands recognized by the sera were subjected to mass spectrometry to identify the individual proteins reactive with the sera.

RESULTS: The pooled serum sample reacted with 20 bands, which resolved to 34 distinct proteins, most of which were novel immunogens. The pool was most reactive to A. alternata. The proteins identified included peptidases (8/34), hydrolases (6/34), oxidoreductases (5/34), and glucosidases (4/34), while 11/34 were unknown. Eight of the proteins were predicted to be allergens using the Structural Database of Allergenic Proteins (SDAP).

CONCLUSIONS: We identified novel immunogens from fungi expanding the number of known fungal allergens. These form a potential basis for diagnostics specific for the Zimbabwean population. Validation assays will now need to be carried out to further evaluate the cross-reactivity of the identified allergen candidates as well as investigate their potential recognition in a larger cohort of patients. Furthermore, there is now a need to conduct studies relating sensitization to these immunogens and clinical diseases in the population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1016
Number of pages10
JournalInternational archives of allergy and immunology
Issue number9
Early online date18 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Fungal allergens
  • Fungi
  • Zimbabwe


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