Allergies are elicited by the allergen-mediated-clustering of the immunoglobulin E (IgE) molecules on the surface of mast cells. Allergic diseases are increasing health concerns in developed nations. Depending on the severity of the allergic reaction, the results can vary from a simple itch to anaphylactic shock, which results in 1,500 deaths each year in the US. There are no cures for allergies, and current therapies focus on treatment of acute symptoms or chronic localized immune suppression. Even with the most restricted diets, accidental exposure is very frequent for food allergies, putting patients at riskfor life threatening anaphylaxis. Combined, there is a need for more effective, alternative treatments for IgE-mediated allergic responses. The objective of this application is to establish a detailed understanding of epitope-IgE interactions on mast cell degranulation, and to design selective inhibitors of IgE-mediated allergic responses. Because naturally occurring allergens are typically complex, structurally heterogenous proteins with multiple allergy-inducing epitopes, it has been a challenge to develop cellular experimental model systems that mimic natural allergic responses. First, we will address this problem by developing a multicomponent experimental model system, which will enable an integrative approach by incorporating epitope heterogeneity and IgE variability to better reflect the complexity of natural allergens. Next, we will engineer high avidity heterobivalent inhibitors (HBI) of epitope-IgE interactions for selectiv inhibition of IgE-mediated allergic reactions. The HBI will be designed to simultaneously target two nearby binding sites located on the Fab domain of an IgE: the antigen binding site; and the not-so-well-known nucleotide binding site (NBS). Finally, we will expand our studies to model and selectively inhibit natural allergens such as peanut allergens.
The specific aims of this proposal are to: i) develop a multicomponent experimental model system that reflects epitope heterogeneity and IgE antibody variability to establish how epitope-IgE interactions affect mast cell degranulation under physiologically relevant conditions; ii) engineer heterobivalent inhibitor (HBI) that utilize the not-so-well-known NBS for selective inhibition of IgE clustering on mast cells via partial epitope inhibition; iii) validate the inhibitory potential of HBI design in mouse allergy models. The proposed work is innovative because it (i) develops a physiologically relevant experimental model system to study mast cell stimulation and its inhibition, (ii) characterizes the not-so-well-known NBS found on all antibodies, and thereby reveals a unique and underutilized feature present in the antibody structure; (iii) brings a novel molecular design approach to selectively inhibit the key event triggering an allergic response with potential long term clinical applications in food and environmental allergies. 1

Public Health Relevance

Allergies are a major cause of illness in the US. Currently, there are no cures for allergies and the available therapies involve non-specific suppression of the immune system. The goal of this project is to establish a detailed understanding of IgE-allergen interactions in mast cell degranulation, and to engineer allergen specific molecules to inhibit allergic responses without non-specific suppression of the immune system. 2

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Synthetic and Biological Chemistry A Study Section (SBCA)
Program Officer
Dong, Gang
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Notre Dame
Biostatistics & Other Math Sci
Biomed Engr/Col Engr/Engr Sta
Notre Dame
United States
Zip Code
Deak, Peter E; Vrabel, Maura R; Kiziltepe, Tanyel et al. (2017) Determination of Crucial Immunogenic Epitopes in Major Peanut Allergy Protein, Ara h2, via Novel Nanoallergen Platform. Sci Rep 7:3981
Mustafaoglu, Nur; Kiziltepe, Tanyel; Bilgicer, Basar (2017) Site-specific conjugation of an antibody on a gold nanoparticle surface for one-step diagnosis of prostate specific antigen with dynamic light scattering. Nanoscale 9:8684-8694
Mustafaoglu, Nur; Kiziltepe, Tanyel; Bilgicer, Basar (2016) Antibody purification via affinity membrane chromatography method utilizing nucleotide binding site targeting with a small molecule. Analyst 141:6571-6582
Deak, Peter E; Vrabel, Maura R; Pizzuti, Vincenzo J et al. (2016) Nanoallergens: A multivalent platform for studying and evaluating potency of allergen epitopes in cellular degranulation. Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 241:996-1006
Handlogten, Michael W; Deak, Peter E; Bilgicer, Basar (2014) Two-allergen model reveals complex relationship between IgE crosslinking and degranulation. Chem Biol 21:1445-51