Journal of Mass Spectrometry (2010), 45, 372--381 DOI: 10.1002/jms.1721
The protein tropomyosin (TM) is a known major allergen present in shellfish causing frequent food allergies. TM is also an occupational allergen generated in the working environment of snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) processing plants. The TM protein was purified from both claw and leg meats of snow crab and analyzed by electrospray ionization and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) using hybrid quadruple time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry (QqToF-MS). The native polypeptide molecular weight of TM was determined to be 32 733 Da. The protein was further characterized using the ‘bottom-up’ MS approach. A peptide mass fingerprinting was obtained by two different enzymatic digestions and de novo sequencing of the most abundant peptides performed. Any post-translational modifications were identified by searching their calculated and predicted molecular weights in precursor ion spectra. The immunological reactivity of snow crab extract was evaluated using specific antibodies and allergenic reactivity assessed with serum of allergic patients. Subsequently, a signature peptide for TM was identified and evaluated in terms of identity and homology using the basic local alignment search tool (BLAST). The identification of a signature peptide for the allergen TM using MALDI-QqToF-MS will be critical for the sensitive and specific quantification of this highly allergenic protein in the work place. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.