Molecular, Structural and Immunological Characterization of Der p 18, a Chitinase-Like House Dust Mite Allergen

Resch Y, Blatt K, Malkus U, Fercher C, Swoboda I, Focke-Tejkl M, Chen KW, Seiberler S, Mittermann I, Lupinek C, Rodriguez-Dominguez A, Zieglmayer P, Zieglmayer R, Keller W, Krzyzanek V, Valent P, Valenta R, Vrtala S.



The house dust mite (HDM) allergen Der p 18 belongs to the glycoside hydrolase family 18 chitinases. The relevance of Der p 18 for house dust mite allergic patients has only been partly investigated.


To perform a detailed characterization of Der p 18 on a molecular, structural and immunological level.


Der p 18 was expressed in E. coli, purified to homogeneity, tested for chitin-binding activity and its secondary structure was analyzed by circular dichroism. Der p 18-specific IgG antibodies were produced in rabbits to localize the allergen in mites using immunogold electron microscopy and to search for cross-reactive allergens in other allergen sources (i.e. mites, crustacea, mollusca and insects). IgE reactivity of rDer p 18 was tested with sera from clinically well characterized HDM-allergic patients (n = 98) and its allergenic activity was analyzed in basophil activation experiments.


Recombinant Der p 18 was expressed and purified as a folded, biologically active protein. It shows weak chitin-binding activity and partial cross-reactivity with Der f 18 from D. farinae but not with proteins from the other tested allergen sources. The allergen was mainly localized in the peritrophic matrix of the HDM gut and to a lower extent in fecal pellets. Der p 18 reacted with IgE from 10% of mite allergic patients from Austria and showed allergenic activity when tested for basophil activation in Der p 18-sensitized patients.


Der p 18 is a rather genus-specific minor allergen with weak chitin-binding activity but exhibits allergenic activity and therefore should be included in diagnostic test panels for HDM allergy.

Full text in English