Regulation of complement activation by C-reactive protein: targeting of the inhibitory activity of C4b-binding protein

Andreas P Sjöberg, Leendert A Trouw, Fabian D G McGrath, C Erik Hack, Anna M Blom
Journal of Immunology 2006 June 15, 176 (12): 7612-20
C-reactive protein (CRP) is the major acute phase protein in humans. It has been shown that CRP interacts with factor H, an inhibitor of the alternative pathway of complement, and now we demonstrate binding of CRP to the fluid-phase inhibitor of the classical pathway, C4b-binding protein (C4BP). C4BP bound to directly immobilized recombinant CRP as well as CRP attached to phosphorylcholine. The binding was sensitive to ionic strength and was enhanced in the presence of calcium. C4BP lacking beta-chain and protein S, which is a form of C4BP increasing upon inflammation, bound CRP with higher affinity than the C4BP-protein S complex. The binding could not be blocked with mAbs directed against peripheral parts of the alpha-chains of C4BP while the isolated central core of C4BP obtained by partial proteolytic digestion bound CRP, indicating that the binding site for CRP is localized in the central core of the C4BP molecule. Furthermore, we found complexes in serum from a patient with an elevated CRP level and trace amounts of CRP were also identified in a plasma-derived C4BP preparation. We were also able to detect C4BP-CRP complexes in solution and established that C4BP retains full complement regulatory activity in the presence of CRP. In addition, we found that C4BP can compete with C1q for binding to immobilized CRP and that it inhibits complement activation locally. We hypothesize that CRP limits excessive complement activation on targets via its interactions with both factor H and C4BP.

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