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Structure, function and control of complement C5 and its proteolytic fragments

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As part of the innate immune system, the complement system recognises a wide range of non-self structures present on pathogens or altered self cells. Its activation elicits proteolytic cascades which eventually results in the cleavage of the C5 protein into two fragments, C5a and C5b. The small anaphylatoxin C5a induces a variety of biological responses upon binding to the 7TM receptors C5aR and the C5L2, while the large C5b fragment nucleates formation of the membrane attack complex capable of killing susceptible pathogens by the formation of a pore structure in association with complement components C6, C7, C8, and C9. A number of regulatory molecules help to control C5 mediated immune responses towards host cells, but in several major inflammatory conditions including sepsis and arthritis, C5a is believed to contribute significantly to disease etiology. Inhibition of membrane attack complex assembly is already approved for treatment of paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome. A number of recent crystal structures have provided a comprehensive insight into the architecture and properties of intact C5 and its fragments, and how pathogens interfere with their function. Here we review the functional and structural aspects of C5 and its fragments, the pathological conditions associated with them, and strategies employed by pathogens to interfere with the biological function of C5. Structural insight and elucidation of evasion strategies employed by pathogens present a unique opportunity for promoting the development of novel selective C5 inhibitors with therapeutic applications.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Molecular Medicine
Volume12
Issue8
Pages (from-to)1083-1097
Number of pages15
ISSN1566-5240
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2012

    Research areas

  • Anaphylatoxins, complement, immune evasion, innate immunity, pathogenesis, structural biology, infectious agent, opsonization, phagocytosis, immune complexes, apoptotic cells, zymogens, C-reactive protein, nucleophiles, lectin pathway

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