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J Phys Chem B. 2016 Aug 25;120(33):8416-23. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b02095. Epub 2016 Apr 29.

Electrostatic Steering Accelerates C3d:CR2 Association.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of California , Riverside, California 92521, United States.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California , San Diego, California 92093, United States.


Electrostatic effects are ubiquitous in protein interactions and are found to be pervasive in the complement system as well. The interaction between complement fragment C3d and complement receptor 2 (CR2) has evolved to become a link between innate and adaptive immunity. Electrostatic interactions have been suggested to be the driving factor for the association of the C3d:CR2 complex. In this study, we investigate the effects of ionic strength and mutagenesis on the association of C3d:CR2 through Brownian dynamics simulations. We demonstrate that the formation of the C3d:CR2 complex is ionic strength-dependent, suggesting the presence of long-range electrostatic steering that accelerates the complex formation. Electrostatic steering occurs through the interaction of an acidic surface patch in C3d and the positively charged CR2 and is supported by the effects of mutations within the acidic patch of C3d that slow or diminish association. Our data are in agreement with previous experimental mutagenesis and binding studies and computational studies. Although the C3d acidic patch may be locally destabilizing because of unfavorable Coulombic interactions of like charges, it contributes to the acceleration of association. Therefore, acceleration of function through electrostatic steering takes precedence to stability. The site of interaction between C3d and CR2 has been the target for delivery of CR2-bound nanoparticle, antibody, and small molecule biomarkers, as well as potential therapeutics. A detailed knowledge of the physicochemical basis of C3d:CR2 association may be necessary to accelerate biomarker and drug discovery efforts.

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