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J Biol Chem. 1992 Aug 25;267(24):17087-94.

Formation and structure of the C5b-7 complex of the lytic pathway of complement.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, California 92037.


The formation and structure of the complement cytolytic intermediary complex, C5b-7, were studied with the aim of determining the interactive regions of C5, C6, and C7. The structure of human complement component C5 was elucidated by the application of limited proteolysis which generated well characterized major polypeptide fragments of this molecule. Plasmin, thrombin, and kallikrein cleave C5b with greater facility than C5. The most useful cleavage of C5b was effected by plasmin because the fragmentation pattern was similar to the processing of C3b by factors H, I, and kallikrein. Plasmin hydrolyzes peptide bonds within the alpha'-chain of C5b, resulting in a four-chain fragment, C5c (M(r) = 142,000), and a single chain fragment, C5d (M(r) = 43,000). Circular dichroism spectroscopic analyses indicated that C5d is substantially richer in alpha-helical content than is C5c (27 versus 9%). Polyclonal antibodies directed against C5c blocked the interaction of C5b-6 with C7, whereas antibodies directed against C5d inhibited the binding of C5 with C3b. Chemical cross-linking using a cleavable radioiodinated photoreactive reagent revealed that both C6 and C7 associate preferentially with the alpha'-chain of C5b. The reversible interactions of C5 with C6, C7, and major polypeptide fragments derived from these were investigated with solid phase binding assays. The results indicate that the carboxyl-terminal domains of C6 and C7, which have cysteine-rich modules homologous to those found in factors H and I, have the capacity to link specifically with C5.

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