A genetic engineering strategy to eliminate peanut allergy
- Cite this article as:
- Dodo, H., Konan, K. & Viquez, O. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep (2005) 5: 67. doi:10.1007/s11882-005-0058-0
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Peanut allergy is an IgE-mediated hypersensitivity reaction with an increasing prevalence worldwide. Despite its seriousness, to date, there is no cure. Genetic engineering strategies can provide a solution. The post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) model can be used effectively to knock out the production of allergenic proteins in peanut by specific degradation of the endogenous target messenger RNA (mRNA). Ara h 2, the most potent peanut allergenic protein, was selected as a model to demonstrate the feasibility of this concept. Transgenic peanut plants were produced via microprojectile-mediated transformation of peanut embryos using a plasmid construct, which contains a fragment of the coding region of Ara h 2 linked to an enhanced CaMV 35S constitutive promoter. Molecular analyses, including polymerase chain reaction and Southern blots, confirmed the presence of the stable integration of the Ara h 2 transgene into the peanut genome. Northern hybridization showed the expression of the Ara h 2 transgene in all vegetative tissues of the mature transgenic peanut plants, indicating the stable expression of the truncated Ara h 2 transgene throughout the development of the plants. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect that the truncated Ara h 2 transgene transcripts will be synthesized in the seeds and will trigger the specific degradation of endogenous Ara h 2 mRNA. The next step will be to grow the transgenic peanut plants to full maturity for seed production and to determine the level of allergen Ara h 2.