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Mol Immunol. 2004 Jun;41(2-3):173-83.

cC1q-R (calreticulin) and gC1q-R/p33: ubiquitously expressed multi-ligand binding cellular proteins involved in inflammation and infection.

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Department of Medicine, State University of New York, Health Sciences Center, T-16040 State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8161, USA.


The first component of complement, C1, is a multi-molecular complex comprising of C1q and the Ca(2+)-dependent tetramer C1r(2)-C1s(2). The traditional role of C1q within the complex is that of recognition signal-a signal, which is instantly converted into a highly specific intramolecular proteolytic activation of the C1r(2)-C1s(2) tetramer thereby triggering activation of the classical pathway. Another important function of C1q is its ability to bind to a wide range of cell types resulting in the induction of cell-specific biological responses. These cells include polymorphonuclear leukocytes, monocytes, lymphocytes, dendritic cells, endothelial cells and platelets. Interaction of C1q with endothelial cells and platelets, for example, leads to cellular activation followed by release of biological mediators and/or expression of adhesion molecules, all of which contribute, directly or indirectly to the inflammatory process. These specific responses are mediated by the interaction of C1q with C1q binding proteins or receptors on the cell surface. To date, four types of putative C1q binding cell surface expressed proteins/receptors have been described. These include cC1q-R/CR, or calreticulin (CR), a 60 kDa protein, which is also known as collectin receptor; gC1q-R/p33, a 33 kDa homotrimeric protein; C1q-Rp (CD93), a 120 kDa, O-sialoglycoprotein; and CR1 (CD35), the receptor for C3b. Although the specific role of each of these molecules in a given C1q-mediated cellular response is yet to be worked out, all of them may, in one form or another, participate in the inflammatory processes associated with vascular or atherosclerotic lesions, autoimmune diseases, or infections. The main focus of our laboratory for the past 20 years has been to elucidate the structure and function of cC1q-R/CR and gC1q-R/p33, both of which have been isolated and characterized on the basis of their ability to bind C1q. The purpose of this article is therefore to provide an up to date overview of these two proteins with particular emphasis on their unique structural and functional features, their multi-faceted nature and most importantly their role in infection and inflammation.

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