Red soft coral (RSC; Dendronephthya nipponica, a marine coelenterate) causes spiny lobster fishermen living along the Pacific coast of Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan to develop occupational allergies, such as conjunctivitis, rhinitis, dermatitis and bronchial asthma. The aim of this study was to purify and to characterize RSC allergen, which causes occupational asthma in spiny lobster fishermen. The allergic responsiveness of spiny lobster fishermen to RSC was examined. The examinations included specific IgE production, skin test responses, lymphocyte stimulation tests and specific IgG production. We found that RSC has a strong sensitizing activity in humans at a molecular weight of 10 kD or more, while it has no IgE-producing activity at a molecular weight of less than 10 kD. Neither the nonatopic controls nor the atopic non-coral-allergic controls exhibited any RAST-binding activity to any fraction. For the purification and the identification of this new allergen component, repeated gel filtration of the RSC extract was performed on a Sephacryl S-200 column, followed by gel filtration on a Superose-6 column. The purified major allergen component Den n 1, which is separated on a Mono-Q column, showed intradermal responses, lymphocyte stimulating activity and specific IgG-producing activity in RSC-induced bronchial asthma patients. The 53-kD component was electroblotted on a polyvinylidene difluoride membrane. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of this new allergen component (Den n 1) was determined as Asp-Asp-Ile-Asn-Arg-Tyr-Ala-Phe-Asp-Asn-Lys-Ile-Asn-Asp-Lys-Leu-Phe-Asp-His- Trp-Gln-Ser.
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