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Crop Biotech Update

Biotech α-Amylase Inhibitor Peas are Not Allergenic in Mice

January 16, 2013

Biotech peas (Pisum sativum), chickpeas and cowpeas expressing alpha-amylase inhibitor-1 (αAI ) from the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) exhibit effective resistance against weevil infestation. αAI has shown favorable characteristics, such as being seed-specific, high production level, and undergoes modification after translation as it passes through the seed endomembrane system. These characteristics make it a useful gene for insect-susceptible legumes. However, a study reported that αAI expresses a protein that causes allergic responses in mice to the peas but not in beans. To verify the report, Rui-Yun Lee from the Medical University of Vienna and other scientists conducted a repeat experiment.

Lee observed that the BABL/c mice showed allergic reactions to biotech peas, chickpeas, and cowpeas, and even to non-biotech beans. Consuming non-biotech peas that do not express αAI also caused allergic reactions due to the presence of pea lectin. Based on the findings, biotech peas expressing αAI are not more allergenic than beans or non-biotech peas in mice.

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