The complement inhibitor factor H (fH) interacts via its seventh short consensus repeat (SCR) domain with multiple ligands including heparin, streptococcal M protein and C-reactive protein (CRP). The aim of this study was to localize the residues in SCR 7 required for these interactions. We initially built a homology model of fH SCR 6-7 using the averaged NMR structures of fH SCR 15-16 and vaccinia control protein SCR 3-4 as templates. Electrostatic potentials of the model's surface demonstrated a co-localization of three clusters of positively charged residues on SCR 7, labeled site A (R369 and K370), site B (R386 and K387) and site C (K392). These residues, localized to the linker region preceding SCR 7 and to the end of a "hypervariable loop" in SCR 7, were systematically replaced with uncharged alanine residues in an fH construct containing SCR 1-7. The resulting proteins were expressed in the methylotrophic yeast, Pichia pastoris. By ELISA analysis we demonstrated: first, that substituting site A inhibited heparin and CRP binding; secondly, that substituting site B inhibited binding to heparin, CRP and M protein; and thirdly, that substituting site C clearly inhibited only heparin binding.
- Alternative pathway