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J Biol Chem. 2008 Nov 7;283(45):30451-60. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M803648200. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

Complement factor H binds to denatured rather than to native pentameric C-reactive protein.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biochemistry and Immunology and Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK.


Binding of the complement regulatory protein, factor H, to C-reactive protein has been reported and implicated as the biological basis for association of the H402 polymorphic variant of factor H with macular degeneration. Published studies utilize solid-phase or fluid-phase binding assays to show that the factor H Y402 variant binds C-reactive protein more strongly than H402. Diminished binding of H402 variant to C-reactive protein in retinal drusen is posited to permit increased complement activation, driving inflammation and pathology. We used well validated native human C-reactive protein and pure factor H Y402H variants to test interactions. When factor H variants were incubated with C-reactive protein in the fluid phase at physiological concentrations, no association occurred. When C-reactive protein was immobilized on plastic, either non-specifically by adsorption in the presence of Ca(2+) to maintain its native fold and pentameric subunit assembly or by specific Ca(2+)-dependent binding to immobilized natural ligands, no specific binding of either factor H variant from the fluid phase was observed. In contrast, both factor H variants reproducibly bound to C-reactive protein immobilized in the absence of Ca(2+), conditions that destabilize the native fold and pentameric assembly. Both factor H variants strongly bound C-reactive protein that was denatured by heat treatment before immobilization, confirming interaction with denatured but not native C-reactive protein. We conclude that the reported binding of factor H to C-reactive protein results from denaturation of the C-reactive protein during immobilization. Differential binding to C-reactive protein, thus, does not explain association of the Y402H polymorphism with macular degeneration.

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