Factor D (FD), which is also known as adipsin, is regarded as the first-acting protease of the alternative pathway (AP) of complement. It has been suggested that FD is secreted as a mature enzyme that does not require subsequent activation. This view was challenged when it was shown that mice lacking mannose-binding lectin (MBL)-associated serine protease-1 (MASP-1) and MASP-3 contain zymogenic FD (pro-FD), and it is becoming evident that MASP-3 is implicated in pro-FD maturation. However, the necessity of MASP-3 for pro-FD cleavage has been questioned, because AP activity is still observed in sera from MASP-1/3-deficient Malpuech-Michels-Mingarelli-Carnevale (3MC) patients. The identification of a novel 3MC patient carrying a previously unidentified MASP-3 G665S mutation prompted us to develop an analytical isoelectric focusing technique that resolves endogenous FD variants in complex samples. This enabled us to show that although 3MC patients predominantly contain pro-FD, they also contain detectable levels of mature FD. Moreover, using isoelectric focusing analysis, we show that both pro-FD and FD are present in the circulation of healthy donors. We characterized the naturally occurring 3MC-associated MASP-3 mutants and found that they all yielded enzymatically inactive proteins. Using MASP-3-depleted human serum, serum from 3MC patients, and Masp1/3(-/-) mice, we found that lack of enzymatically active MASP-3, or complete MASP-3 deficiency, compromises the conversion of pro-FD to FD. In summary, our observations emphasize that MASP-3 acts as an important maturase in the AP of complement, while also highlighting that there exists MASP-3-independent pro-FD maturation in 3MC patients.
- Journal Article