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Cell. 2001 Mar 9;104(5):709-18.

Conserved role of a complement-like protein in phagocytosis revealed by dsRNA knockout in cultured cells of the mosquito, Anopheles gambiae.

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EMBL, 1 Meyerhofstrasse, 69117, Heidelberg, Germany.


We characterize a novel hemocyte-specific acute phase glycoprotein from the malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae. It shows substantial structural and functional similarities, including the highly conserved thioester motif, to both a central component of mammalian complement system, factor C3, and to a pan-protease inhibitor, alpha2-macroglobulin. Most importantly, this protein serves as a complement-like opsonin and promotes phagocytosis of some Gram-negative bacteria in a mosquito hemocyte-like cell line. Chemical inactivation by methylamine and depletion by double-stranded RNA knockout demonstrate that this function is dependent on the internal thioester bond. This evidence of a complement-like function in a protostome animal adds substantially to the accumulating evidence of a common ancestry of immune defenses in insects and vertebrates.

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