Structures of C3b in Complex with Factors B and D Give Insight into Complement Convertase Formation

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Science  24 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6012, pp. 1816-1820
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195821

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Activation of the complement cascade induces inflammatory responses and marks cells for immune clearance. In the central complement-amplification step, a complex consisting of surface-bound C3b and factor B is cleaved by factor D to generate active convertases on targeted surfaces. We present crystal structures of the pro-convertase C3bB at 4 angstrom resolution and its complex with factor D at 3.5 angstrom resolution. Our data show how factor B binding to C3b forms an open “activation” state of C3bB. Factor D specifically binds the open conformation of factor B through a site distant from the catalytic center and is activated by the substrate, which displaces factor D’s self-inhibitory loop. This concerted proteolytic mechanism, which is cofactor-dependent and substrate-induced, restricts complement amplification to C3b-tagged target cells.

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