Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Food Allergens

  • Tanja Ćirković Veličković
  • Marija Gavrović-Jankulović
Part of the Food Microbiology and Food Safety book series (FMFS)


A food allergen has the ability to first elicit an immunoglobulin E (IgE) response, and then, on subsequent exposures, to elicit a clinical response to the same or similar protein. However, despite increasing knowledge of the structure and amino acid sequences of the identified allergens, only a few biochemical characteristics can be associated with food allergens, such as the biochemical characteristics that allow a food protein to survive the extremes of food processing, escape the digestive enzymes of the human gastrointestinal tract, and interact with the immune system. Food allergen characteristics include abundance of the protein in the food, presence of multiple linear IgE binding epitopes, and resistance of the protein to digestion and processing.

Most plant and animal food allergens belong to only several protein families. It seems likely that the bulk of protein families that include allergenic members have already been discovered. However, belonging to one of a limited number of protein families is not sufficient to determine allergenic activity of a given protein. It seems that the factors important in sensitization of an atopic individual with any given allergen are: (1) the genetic predisposition of the exposed person, (2) the structure of the allergen, and (3) the biochemical and physicochemical properties of the allergen.

Various factors may facilitate the presentation of food allergens to the immune system (primarily through the gut) and these include stability enhanced by binding various types of ligands, large number of disulfide bonds, oligomerization or aggregation, glycosylation, and potential interaction with cell membranes or lipid structures. Some biochemical characteristics associated with food allergens, such as the presence of multiple, linear IgE-binding epitopes and the resistance of the protein to digestion and processing, seem to predominate among food allergens, more so than common structural features.


Food Allergy Food Allergen Major Allergen Arginine Kinase sIgE Antibody 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Three-dimensional structure


Auxin-binding proteins




Basophil activation test




Clusted of differentiation


Component-resolved diagnosis


Chicken serum albumin


Double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge


Enzyme Allergo-Sorbent Testing


Ezyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay


Germins and germin-like proteins


Immuno Solid-phase Allergen Chip


Nonspecific lipid transfer proteins


Oral allergy syndrome


Pathogenesis related


Radioallergosorbent test


Skin prick tests




World Health Organization/International Union of Immunological Societies


Yolk glycoprotein


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanja Ćirković Veličković
    • 1
  • Marija Gavrović-Jankulović
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry Faculty of ChemistryUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia

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