Identification and isolation of a Fel d 1-like molecule as a major rabbit allergen

Christiane Hilger*, Stéphanie Kler, Karthik Arumugam, Dominique Revets, Claude P. Muller, Catherine Charpentier, Christiane Lehners, Martine Morisset, François Hentges

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Rabbits are increasingly kept as domestic pets. Several rabbit allergens have been characterized. However, their sequences are still elusive, and none of these molecules are available for diagnosis. Objective: We sought to isolate major allergens from the rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus and to investigate their importance in sensitized patients. Methods: Proteins were extracted from rabbit hair, and IgE-reactive proteins were purified by using sequential chromatography. Allergens were characterized by means of N-terminal sequencing and mass spectrometry. IgE reactivity to a new allergen was analyzed in sera of 35 patients sensitized to rabbits in a domestic setting. A model of the crystal structure of the isolated proteins was constructed. Results: A new IgE-reactive allergen, Ory c 3, was identified as rabbit lipophilin. The molecule that belongs to the secretoglobin family is a heterodimer of 18 to 19 kDa composed of 2 polypeptide chains, CL2 and AL. CL2 has a predicted N-linked glycosylation site confirmed by using mass spectrometry. Of the 35 patients with rabbit allergy studied, 27 (77%) had IgE to both the glycosylated and deglycosylated Ory c 3 heterodimer. Allergenicity of Ory c 3 was confirmed by using skin prick tests and the basophil activation assay. Modeling of the structure revealed a marked homology to Fel d 1, the major cat allergen. However, no IgE cross-reactivity was detected between Fel d 1 and Ory c 3. Conclusion: The rabbit lipophilin heterodimer AL-CL2 has been identified as a major rabbit allergen. After Fel d 1, Ory c 3 is the second mammalian secretoglobin shown to be a major allergen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-766
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Allergen
  • Fel d 1
  • IgE
  • Ory c 3
  • cross-reactivity
  • inhibition
  • lipophilin
  • molecular modeling
  • rabbit
  • secretoglobin


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