Open Access Research article

Olive cultivar origin is a major cause of polymorphism for Ole e 1 pollen allergen

AbdelMounim Hamman-Khalifa, Antonio Jesús Castro, José Carlos Jiménez-López, María Isabel Rodríguez-García and Juan de Dios Alché*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology of Plants, Estación, Experimental del Zaidín, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Profesor Albareda 1, 18008, Granada, Spain

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BMC Plant Biology 2008, 8:10  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-8-10

Published: 25 January 2008



Pollens from different olive (Olea europaea L.) cultivars have been shown to differ significantly in their content in Ole e 1 and in their overall allergenicity. This allergen is, in addition, characterized by a high degree of polymorphism in its sequence. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the putative presence of divergences in Ole e 1 sequences from different olive cultivars.


RNA from pollen individually collected from 10 olive cultivars was used to amplify Ole e 1 sequences by RT-PCR, and the sequences were analyzed by using different bioinformatics tools. Numerous nucleotide substitutions were detected throughout the sequences, many of which resulted in amino acid substitutions in the deduced protein sequences. In most cases variability within a single variety was much lower than among varieties. Key amino acid changes in comparison with "canonical" sequences previously described in the literature included: a) the substitution of C19-relevant to the disulphide bond structure of the protein-, b) the presence of an additional N-glycosylation motif, and c) point substitutions affecting regions of Ole e 1 already described like relevant for the immunogenicity/allergenicity of the protein.


Varietal origin of olive pollen is a major factor determining the diversity of Ole e 1 variants. We consider this information of capital importance for the optimal design of efficient and safe allergen formulations, and useful for the genetic engineering of modified forms of the allergen among other applications.