Phytochemistry Reviews

, 7:539 | Cite as

Production of recombinant allergens in plants

  • Georg Schmidt
  • Gabriele Gadermaier
  • Heidi Pertl
  • Marc Siegert
  • Kirsi-Marja Oksman-Caldentey
  • Anneli Ritala
  • Martin Himly
  • Gerhard Obermeyer
  • Fatima Ferreira


A large percentage of allergenic proteins are of plant origin. Hence, plant-based expression systems are considered ideal for the recombinant production of certain allergens. First attempts to establish production of plant-derived allergens in plants focused on transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana infected with recombinant viral vectors. Accordingly, allergens from birch and mugwort pollen, as well as from apple have been expressed in plants. Production of house dust mite allergens has been achieved by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of tobacco plants. Beside the use of plants as production systems, other approaches have focused on the development of edible vaccines expressing allergens or epitopes thereof, which bypasses the need of allergen purification. The potential of this approach has been convincingly demonstrated for transgenic rice seeds expressing seven dominant human T cell epitopes derived from Japanese cedar pollen allergens. Parallel to efforts in developing recombinant-based diagnostic and therapeutic reagents, different gene-silencing approaches have been used to decrease the expression of allergenic proteins in allergen sources. In this way hypoallergenic ryegrass, soybean, rice, apple, and tomato were developed.


Allergy Expression system Green biotechnology Molecular farming Recombinant protein 


Art v

Artemisia vulgaris

Bet v

Betula verrucosa


Circular dichroism

Cry j

Cryptomera japonica

Der f

Dermatophagoides farinae

Der p

Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus


Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay


Green fluorescent protein


Liquid chromatography

Lol p

Lolium perenne

Lyc e

Lycopersicon esculentum

Mal d

Malus domestica


Mass spectrometry


Tandem mass spectrometry


Nuclear magnetic resonance


Non-specific Lipid Transfer Protein


Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Pair distance distribution function


Polyethylene glycol

Pen a

Penaeus aztecus


Small-angle X-ray scattering


Sodium dodecyl sulfate


Size exclusion chromatography


The first progeny generation of transgenic plants (T0)


T helper lymphocyte


Tobacco mosaic virus


Zucchini yellow mosaic virus



GO thank the FWF (S8804, L189-B03) and the University of Salzburg (Priority Program “Bioscience and Health”). The work of FF was supported by grants from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF S8802) and from the Christian-Doppler Research Association. AR acknowledges the financial support of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georg Schmidt
    • 1
  • Gabriele Gadermaier
    • 1
  • Heidi Pertl
    • 2
  • Marc Siegert
    • 2
  • Kirsi-Marja Oksman-Caldentey
    • 3
  • Anneli Ritala
    • 3
  • Martin Himly
    • 1
  • Gerhard Obermeyer
    • 2
  • Fatima Ferreira
    • 1
  1. 1.Christian Doppler Laboratory for Allergy Diagnosis and Therapy, Department of Molecular BiologyUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria
  2. 2.Molecular Plant Biophysics and Biotechnology, Department of Molecular BiologyUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria
  3. 3.VTT Technical Research Centre of FinlandEspooFinland

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