A cDNA encoding an allergenic protein was isolated from an Aspergillus fumigatus (A. fumigatus) cDNA library displayed on the surface of filamentous phage. Serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) from A. fumigatus-sensitized individuals was used to enrich phage-expressing gene products binding to IgE. One of the cDNAs encoded a 26.7-kD protein that was identified as a manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) sharing 51.5% identity and 67.2% homology to the corresponding human enzyme. Both human and A. fumigatus MnSOD coding sequences were expressed in Escherichia coli as [His]6-tagged fusion proteins and purified by Ni(2+)-chelate affinity chromatography. The two recombinant MnSODs were both recognized by IgE antibodies from subjects allergic to the A. fumigatus MnSOD and elicited specific immediate type allergic skin reactions in these individuals. Moreover, both human and A. fumigatus MnSOD induced proliferation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of A. fumigatus-allergic subjects who showed specific IgE responses and reacted in skin tests to MnSOD. These observations provide evidence for autoreactivity to the human MnSOD in allergic persons sensitized to an environmental allergen from A. fumigatus who share a high degree of sequence homology to the corresponding human enzyme.

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