Open Access Database

Allermatch™, a webtool for the prediction of potential allergenicity according to current FAO/WHO Codex alimentarius guidelines

Mark WEJ Fiers1, Gijs A Kleter2*, Herman Nijland1, Ad ACM Peijnenburg2, Jan Peter Nap1 and Roeland CHJ van Ham1

Author Affiliations

1 Applied Bioinformatics, Plant Research International, Wageningen University and Research Center, Wageningen, PO Box 16, 6700 AA, The Netherlands

2 RIKILT-Institute of Food Safety, Wageningen University and Research Center, Wageningen, PO Box 230, 6700 AE, The Netherlands

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BMC Bioinformatics 2004, 5:133  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-5-133

Published: 16 September 2004

Abstract

Background

Novel proteins entering the food chain, for example by genetic modification of plants, have to be tested for allergenicity. Allermatch™ http://allermatch.org webcite is a webtool for the efficient and standardized prediction of potential allergenicity of proteins and peptides according to the current recommendations of the FAO/WHO Expert Consultation, as outlined in the Codex alimentarius.

Description

A query amino acid sequence is compared with all known allergenic proteins retrieved from the protein databases using a sliding window approach. This identifies stretches of 80 amino acids with more than 35% similarity or small identical stretches of at least six amino acids. The outcome of the analysis is presented in a concise format. The predictive performance of the FAO/WHO criteria is evaluated by screening sets of allergens and non-allergens against the Allermatch databases. Besides correct predictions, both methods are shown to generate false positive and false negative hits and the outcomes should therefore be combined with other methods of allergenicity assessment, as advised by the FAO/WHO.

Conclusions

Allermatch™ provides an accessible, efficient, and useful webtool for analysis of potential allergenicity of proteins introduced in genetically modified food prior to market release that complies with current FAO/WHO guidelines.