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J Immunol. 1992 Dec 1;149(11):3554-62.

Primary structure of cobra complement component C3.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20007.


Complement component C3 is a multifunctional protein known to interact specifically with more than 10 different plasma proteins or cell surface receptors. Cobra venom contains cobra venom factor, a structural analogue of C3 that shares some properties with C3 (e.g., formation of a C3/C5 convertase) but differs in others (e.g., susceptibility to regulation by factors H and I). The elucidation of structural differences between C3 and cobra venom factor can be expected to help identify functionally important regions of C3 molecules. To that end we have undertaken the molecular cloning of both cobra C3 and cobra venom factor to take advantage of the unique biologic system where both proteins are produced by the same species. We report the primary structure of cobra C3 mRNA and the derived protein structure. Cobra C3 mRNA is 5211 bp in length. It contains an open reading frame of 4953 bp coding for a single pre-pro-C3 molecule, consisting of a 22-amino acid signal sequence, a 633-amino acid beta-chain (70 kDa), and a 992-amino acid alpha-chain (112 kDa) which is separated from the beta-chain by four arginine residues. There are no N-glycosylation sites in cobra C3. Cobra C3 exhibits approximately 58% nucleotide sequence identity with C3 from mammalian species. At the protein level, sequence identity is approximately 52% and sequence similarity approximately 71%. All 27 cysteine residues are highly conserved as are the C3 convertase cleavage site, the thioester site, and the factor B binding site. Cobra C3 also seems to have homologous binding sites for factor H and properdin, as well as a conserved sequence in the functionally important region of the C3a anaphylatoxin. The sequence homology at the CR2 and CR3 binding sites does not exceed the overall sequence homology. Accordingly, the existence of CR2 and CR3 binding sites can neither be deduced nor excluded.

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