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Blood. 2014 Jan 30;123(5):768-76. doi: 10.1182/blood-2013-07-515726. Epub 2013 Dec 13.

Polyphosphate suppresses complement via the terminal pathway.

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Centre for Blood Research, Life Sciences Institute.


Polyphosphate, synthesized by all cells, is a linear polymer of inorganic phosphate. When released into the circulation, it exerts prothrombotic and proinflammatory activities by modulating steps in the coagulation cascade. We examined the role of polyphosphate in regulating the evolutionarily related proteolytic cascade complement. In erythrocyte lysis assays, polyphosphate comprising more than 1000 phosphate units suppressed total hemolytic activity with a concentration to reduce maximal lysis to 50% that was 10-fold lower than with monophosphate. In the ion- and enzyme-independent terminal pathway complement assay, polyphosphate suppressed complement in a concentration- and size-dependent manner. Phosphatase-treated polyphosphate lost its ability to suppress complement, confirming that polymer integrity is required. Sequential addition of polyphosphate to the terminal pathway assay showed that polyphosphate interferes with complement only when added before formation of the C5b-7 complex. Physicochemical analyses using native gels, gel filtration, and differential scanning fluorimetry revealed that polyphosphate binds to and destabilizes C5b,6, thereby reducing the capacity of the membrane attack complex to bind to and lyse the target cell. In summary, we have added another function to polyphosphate in blood, demonstrating that it dampens the innate immune response by suppressing complement. These findings further establish the complex relationship between coagulation and innate immunity.

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