Featured Paper: Allergy the Price of Immunity

We would like to draw your attention to a paper recently published in PLOS Computational Biology:

Comparisons of Allergenic and Metazoan Parasite Proteins: Allergy the Price of Immunity by Nidhi Tyagi

It is thought that part of our immune system has evolved to combat and provide immunity against infection by parasitic worms. However, in the absence of parasitic infection, this same arm of the immune system can become hyper-responsive and mistakenly target allergenic proteins in food or the environment. This results in an unregulated allergic response, which can sometimes be lethal.

The researchers used computational techniques to predict which proteins in parasitic worms would cause an immune response similar to an allergic reaction in humans. Their experimental studies supported these predictions and, for the first time, they identified a protein in a parasitic worm that is similar to a protein that was previously thought to be encoded only in the genomes of plants. This protein is one of the most common proteins in pollen that causes allergy in humans.

The paper and its associated Brugia malayi and Onchocerca volvulus genes are part of the WS252 release of WormBase.

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