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J Immunol. 2009 Jan 1;182(1):456-65.

Residue Lys57 in the collagen-like region of human L-ficolin and its counterpart Lys47 in H-ficolin play a key role in the interaction with the mannan-binding lectin-associated serine proteases and the collectin receptor calreticulin.

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  • 1Institut de Biologie Structurale Jean-Pierre Ebel, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5075, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.


L- and H-ficolins are serum oligomeric defense proteins consisting of a collagen-like region and a fibrinogen-like recognition domain that bind to pathogen- and apoptotic cell-associated molecular patterns. They share with mannan-binding lectin (MBL) the ability to associate with MBL-associated serine proteases (MASP)-1, -2, -3, and protein MAp19 and to trigger the lectin complement pathway through MASP-2 activation. Recent studies have revealed the essential role of Lys(55) in the collagenous region of MBL in the interaction with the MASPs and calreticulin (CRT). To test the possible involvement of the homologous residues Lys(57) of L-ficolin and Lys(47) of H-ficolin, point mutants of both proteins were produced in which these residues were mutated to Ala, Glu, or Arg. The resulting mutants exhibited oligomerization patterns and ligand binding properties similar to those of their wild-type counterparts. In contrast, all three mutations strongly inhibited the interaction of L- and H-ficolins with MAp19 and MASP-2 and impaired the ability of each ficolin to trigger the lectin pathway. In the case of MASP-1 and MASP-3, replacement of the target Lys residues by Ala or Glu abolished interaction, whereas the Lys to Arg mutations had only slight inhibitory effects. Likewise, binding of each ficolin to CRT was inhibited by mutation of Lys to Ala or Glu, but not to Arg. In conclusion, residues Lys(57) of L-ficolin and Lys(47) of H-ficolin are key components of the interaction with the MASPs and CRT, providing strong indication that MBL and the ficolins share homologous binding sites for both types of proteins.

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