This project works on reducing or removing the allergenicity of celery. The researchers aim in particular for targeted changes at the level of the Api g 1 protein. This is done using CRISPR/Cas9, a technique that keeps the rest of the DNA unchanged. Before the successful mutation can happen, the researchers must carry out detailed study work on characterization, functionalities and the most appropriate places in the DNA to make the mutation. Celery is one of 14 mandatory ingredients to be labelled, because celery allergy (related to birch pollen allergy) is part of the most common food allergies. Celery (e.g. white celery, green celery, celery, celeriac) is an important crop for Flanders both in terms of cultivation and in terms of processing in the food industry.
In celery, different genes can be distinguished, i.e. Api g 1 – 6. Celery allergens cause a secondary allergy initially induced by birch pollen. The proteins (Api g 1-6) responsible for allergenicity belong to the category of PR-10 (Pathogen Related) proteins, which are the main cause of induction of food allergies in the bulk of plant-based foods. Api g 1 (which encodes a PR-10 protein) is most commonly responsible for allergy development. Api g 1 also plays a role in the immunity of the celery plant against diseases or stress. It is therefore important to eliminate only the allergenicity and not the resistance function. We therefore start with a thorough characterization of the protein. We determine which are the most suitable places to carry out the precision cut (mutation) via CRISPR/Cas9, to reduce allergic responses without negatively influencing the plant's growth power and its immune defenses against diseases and pests.
The 'purification' of allergenicity in such an important raw material in our diet is not only relevant and helpful for the vegetable sector in terms of marketing (production, fresh market, cutting and processing). This research project also benefits the health and well-being of people with an allergy, a growing group. If the project researchers can prove which modifications of the protein are effective, hypo-allergenic parent lines of celery can later be included in crossings performed via classical breeding. (The hypo-allergenicity of the new celery should initially still be tested on patients with celery allergy.) We also expect transferable knowledge: what we learn in celery can later also be apprlied for other allergens in other crops, such as soy, strawberry, apple, etc.
|Effective start/end date||1/11/18 → 31/10/22|