Lipid transfer proteins (LTPs) are a family of low molecular mass (7–9 kDa) polypeptides, the members of which share 35–95% sequence homology. These proteins are widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom and are receiving attention for their biochemical characteristics and biological activity. LTPs are indeed studied in different research fields varying from allergy to food technology, and numerous molecules belonging to this class are progressively being identified and investigated. Proteins from pomegranate juice were fractioned by cation exchange chromatography and analyzed by SDS-PAGE. Two proteins were identified as putative LTPs on the basis of their molecular weights and their electrophoretic behaviors under reducing and nonreducing conditions. Finally, proteins were purified and characterized by mass spectrometry. This analysis confirmed that the two polypeptides are LTPs on the basis of an amino acid sequence common to LTPs from other plant sources and cysteine content. The two proteins, named LTP1a and LTP1b, showed similar molecular masses but different immunological profiles when immunodetected with rabbit antibodies specific for Pru p 3 and human IgE from a patient suffering from pomegranate allergy. The demonstration of the existence of two immunologically unrelated LTPs in pomegranate confirms the variability and the complexity of the plant LTP family. This should be taken into account when the role of these proteins as elicitors of allergies to fruits is investigated and could help to explain the contradictory literature data on pomegranate allergy.
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