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J Immunol. 1992 May 1;148(9):2795-802.

The coding sequence of the hemolytically inactive C4A6 allotype of human complement component C4 reveals that a single arginine to tryptophan substitution at beta-chain residue 458 is the likely cause of the defect.

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Medical Research Council Immunochemistry Unit, Department of Biochemistry, Oxford, U.K.


The C4A6 allotype of the human complement component C4 is known to be defective in C5 binding within the C5 convertase. To characterize the position and nature of the molecular defect in the C4A6 allotype we have isolated the C4A6 gene from a cosmid genomic DNA library. Direct sequencing of a 4.4-kb region of the gene covering exons 17 to 31 and encoding the C4d fragment and most of the rest of the alpha chain of C4 revealed that the C4A6 allele encodes the A isotypic residues Pro Cys-Leu Asp at positions 1101, 1102, 1105, and 1106 and the same residues as the C4A3 alpha gene at the polymorphic positions 1054 (Asp), 1157 (Asn), 1182 (Thr), 1188 (Val), 1191 (Leu) and 1267 (Ala). In addition the C4A6 allele was shown to encode a Pro at the previously characterized polymorphic position 707 in the C4a peptide where the C4A3 alpha allele encodes a Leu. The remaining 26 exons of the C4A6 gene were analyzed by detecting nucleotide mismatches in C4A6/C4A3 and C4A6/C4B1 DNA heteroduplexes using the chemical cleavage of mismatch technique. The regions around detected mismatches were sequenced. In total seven nucleotide differences were defined on comparison of the C4A6 and other C4 sequences, of which three were present in exons. Two of these resulted in amino acid changes. One of the amino acid differences is a known polymorphism in C4, a Tyr/Ser substitution at position 328 in the beta-chain. The second amino acid difference caused by a C to T transition in the first base of the codon for amino acid residue 458 was the only one shown to be specific to the C4A6 allotype. The C4A6 allotype contains a Trp residue at this position in the beta-chain instead of the Arg residue found in all other C4A and C4B allotypes so far characterized. We propose that this Arg to Trp substitution at beta-chain residue 458 is responsible for the inability of C4A6 to bind C5 in the C5 convertase.

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