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J Immunol. 2010 Oct 1;185(7):4169-78. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001819. Epub 2010 Sep 3.

Selective inhibition of the lectin pathway of complement with phage display selected peptides against mannose-binding lectin-associated serine protease (MASP)-1 and -2: significant contribution of MASP-1 to lectin pathway activation.

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Institute of Enzymology, Biological Research Center, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.


The complement system, an essential part of the innate immune system, can be activated through three distinct routes: the classical, the alternative, and the lectin pathways. The contribution of individual activation pathways to different biological processes can be assessed by using pathway-selective inhibitors. In this paper, we report lectin pathway-specific short peptide inhibitors developed by phage display against mannose-binding lectin-associated serine proteases (MASPs), MASP-1 and MASP-2. On the basis of the selected peptide sequences, two 14-mer peptides, designated as sunflower MASP inhibitor (SFMI)-1 and SFMI-2, were produced and characterized. SFMI-1 inhibits both MASP-1 and MASP-2 with a K(I) of 65 and 1030 nM, respectively, whereas SFMI-2 inhibits only MASP-2 with a K(I) of 180 nM. Both peptides block the lectin pathway activation completely while leaving the classical and the alternative routes intact and fully functional, demonstrating that of all complement proteases only MASP-1 and/or MASP-2 are inhibited by these peptides. In a C4 deposition inhibitor assay using preactivated MASP-2, SFMI-2 is 10-fold more effective than SFMI-1 in accordance with the fact that SFMI-2 is a more potent inhibitor of MASP-2. Surprisingly, however, out of the two peptides, SFMI-1 is much more effective in preventing C3 and C4 deposition when normal human serum containing zymogen MASPs is used. This suggests that MASP-1 has a crucial role in the initiation steps of lectin pathway activation most probably by activating MASP-2. Because the lectin pathway has been implicated in several life-threatening pathological states, these inhibitors should be considered as lead compounds toward developing lectin pathway blocking therapeutics.

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