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Biochemistry. 1991 Aug 13;30(32):8000-8.

Neutron and X-ray scattering studies on the human complement protein properdin provide an analysis of the thrombospondin repeat.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Chemistry, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London, U.K.


Properdin is a regulatory glycoprotein of the alternative pathway of the complement system of immune defense. It is responsible for the stabilization of the C3 convertase complex formed between C3b and the Bb fragment of factor B. Neutron and X-ray solution scattering experiments were performed on the dimeric and trimeric forms of properdin. These have RG values of 9.1 and 10.7 nm, respectively. The scattering curves were compared with Debye sphere modeling simulations for properdin. Good agreements were obtained for models similar to published electron micrographs showing that the properdin trimer has a triangular structure with sides of 26 nm. Such a structure also accounted for sedimentation coefficient data on properdin. Primary structure analyses for mouse and human properdin have shown that this contains six homologous motifs known as the thrombospondin repeat (TSR), which is the second most abundant domain type found in the complement proteins. Sequences for these 12 TSRs were aligned with 19 others found in thrombospondin and the late complement components. Three distinct groups of TSRs were identified, namely, the TSRs found in thrombospondin and properdin, the TSRs mostly found at the N-terminus of the late complement components, and the TSRs found at the C-terminus of the late components. Averaged secondary structure predictions suggested that all three groups contain similar backbone structures with two amphipathic turn regions and one hydrophilic beta-strand region. The mean dimensions of the TSRs of properdin in solution were determined to be approximately 4 nm X 1.7 nm X 1.7 nm, showing that these are elongated in structure.

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