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Infect Immun. 1993 Mar;61(3):852-60.

C1q binding and activation of the complement classical pathway by Klebsiella pneumoniae outer membrane proteins.

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Universidad de las Islas Baleares, Departamento de Biología Ambiental, Palma de Mallorca, Spain.


The mechanisms of killing of Klebsiella pneumoniae serum-sensitive strains in nonimmune serum by the complement classical pathway have been studied. The bacterial cell surface components that bind C1q more efficiently were identified as two major outer membrane proteins, presumably the porins of this bacterial species. These two outer membrane proteins were isolated from a representative serum-sensitive strain. We have demonstrated that in their purified form, they bind C1q and activate the classical pathway in an antibody-independent manner, with the subsequent consumption of C4 and reduction of the serum total hemolytic activity. Activation of the classical pathway has been observed in human nonimmune serum and agammaglobulinemic serum (both depleted in factor D). Binding of C1q to other components of the bacterial outer membrane, in particular the rough lipopolysaccharide, could not be demonstrated. Activation of the classical pathway by this lipopolysaccharide was also much less efficient than activation by the two outer membrane proteins. The antibody-independent binding of C1q to serum-sensitive strains was independent of the presence of capsular polysaccharide, while strains possessing lipopolysaccharide O antigen bind less C1q and are resistant to complement-mediated killing.

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