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Hexamerin-2 Protein as a Novel Allergen in Occupational Locust Allergy
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  • Yu Wang,
  • Hongfei Lou,
  • Chengshuo Wang,
  • Ming Ni,
  • Dan Yu,
  • Luo Zhang,
  • Le Kang
Yu Wang
Hebei University
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Hongfei Lou
Beijing TongRen Hospital
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Chengshuo Wang
Beijing Tongren Hospital
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Ming Ni
Hebei University
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Dan Yu
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Luo Zhang
Beijing TongRen Hospital, Capital Medical University,
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Le Kang
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Abstract

Background: Locusts as model systems are widely used in many biological laboratories worldwide. Occupational exposure to locusts induces a high prevalence of allergic sensitization. However, knowledge on occupational locust allergens remains unclear. This study aimed to identify a novel allergen from locusts that causes occupational allergies. Methods: We conducted a 20-year retrospective survey of 94 persons using questionnaires and a cross-sectional survey of 57 persons using questionnaires and immunological tests for occupational allergies in long-term locust laboratories. We identified the major allergens by immunoblotting and analysed them by LC-MS/MS. The allergenicity of the major allergen proteins was assessed by specific IgE (sIgE) detection, immunoblotting and ELISA inhibition assays. Results: The retrospective survey indicated that the frequency of occupational allergies was relatively low (13.8%), while the cross-sectional survey showed a higher frequency (40.4%). The symptoms in most allergic males were allergic rhinitis and asthma, while females showed higher prevalence of atopic dermatitis. Occupational exposure for 2-3 h per day or continuing one and half years obviously increased the allergy risk. We identified the hexamerin-2 protein as a major allergen in locusts. Purified hexamerin-2 protein achieved approximately 60% serum IgE reactivity with locust protein extract. The potential for cross-reactivity with cockroaches was indicated by sequence alignment of the hexamerin-2 protein and allergens of cockroaches. Conclusion: Occupational exposure is an important risk factor for locust allergy. The hexamerin-2 protein of locusts as a major allergen in occupational allergy was identified for the first time.