As genomic sequencing technology has become widespread, the number of sequences to be filtered has grown exponentially. The COMPARE process accommodates this growth by implementing an automated cutting-edge and high-throughput bioinformatics platform to identify a meaningful subset of sequences for scientific review by a diverse group of recognized allergy experts. The COMPARE process meets the contemporary needs for the population criteria of a well-documented and sustainable allergen database.
The construction of the COMPARE database and the process of identifying allergenic protein sequences has been published in the paper below:
The COMPARE Database: A Public Resource for Allergen Identification, Adapted for Continuous Improvement. van Ree et al. Frontiers in Allergy. (August 2021)
Professional scientific staff at HESI provide management oversight for the allergenic sequence search (conducted by informatics experts), targeted literature search (conducted by external experts), academic peer review panel, and public release of the final database. A public-private steering team convened by HESI provides input into matters of process but does not have any influence on decisions regarding sequence inclusion/exclusion in the database.
The first iteration of the database (COMPARE 2017) was released and publicly available on this website as of 03 February 2017. The database is updated annually with the release of a new version at the beginning of the year.
There is an international nomenclature group – WHO-IUIS Allergen Nomenclature Subcommittee (http://www.allergen.org/) – that is responsible for designating names to allergens, and where necessary re-naming already listed allergens in case of inconsistencies or changes in biological names of organisms. Names of allergens are built up by using the first three letters of the genus and the first letter of the species, separated by a space, followed by another space and a number related to the order of discovery. As an example, the first allergen from the organism, Blomia tropicalis, was named Blo t 1. Subsequent, although structurally distinct allergens, from the same organism then are named sequentially; Blo t 2, Blo t 3, etc.
Homologous allergens in different species will be given the same number, but in this system there are some inconsistencies due to the fact that a number may already have been used for another allergen that was discovered earlier. An example of such inconsistency is the homologue of the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 in peanut is known as Ara h 8, because the name Ara h 1 was already taken.
Note: The IUIS database is not a comprehensive database of clinically reviewed allergens; its purpose is the standardization and regulation of allergen nomenclature. The COMPARE Peer Review Panel (PRP) has assigned allergen names to sequences in the COMPARE database based on their similarity to sequences in the IUIS database. Not all IUIS names assigned by the PRP are reflected in the IUIS database.
The COMPARE database relies on the contribution of scientific expertise as well as in-kind and direct financial support from both public and private scientific organizations to develop this public resource. If you would like to learn more about how you or your organization can contribute, please contact us here.