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Infect Immun. Mar 1979; 23(3): 711–716.
PMCID: PMC414224

Activation of the alternative complement pathway by L-phase variants of gram-positive bacteria.

Abstract

The present studies were performed to investigate the potential role of the alternative complement pathway in the host's defense against bacterial L-phase variants and to gain insight into the subcellular component of gram-positive bacteria responsible for activation of the alternative pathway. L-phase variants of Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis were able to activate the alternative pathway and consume C3 in C4-deficient guinea pig serum in amounts comparable to their respective bacterial-phase parent organisms. Activation of the complement system via the alternative pathway resulted in death of the L-phase variants. Membranes prepared from S. faecalis L-phase variants, by either osmotic lysis or mechanical disruption, retained their ability to activate the alternative pathway. Treatment of the membranes by three different methods (water washes, hot trichloroacetic acid, and cold trichloroacetic acid) resulted in a greatly diminished ability of the membranes to activate the alternative pathway. In addition, the extracts derived from the membranes by water washes and by cold-trichloroacetic acid treatment were able to activate the alternative pathway. These studies indicate that these L-phase variants can activate the alternative pathway and suggest that membrane-associated factors play a role in the alternative pathway activation by S. faecalis L-phase variants.

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Selected References

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