The complement system constitutes an important part of the innate immune system. The collectins and the ficolins are soluble pattern recognition molecules that contribute to complement activation via the lectin pathway. During previous experiments with ficolin-2 and ficolin-3, we have observed that the molecules may interact. We therefore hypothesized the existence of stable ficolin-2/-3 heterocomplexes. We could demonstrate ficolin-2/-3 heterocomplexes in normal human serum and plasma by ELISA using Abs specific for ficolin-2 and ficolin-3. The formation of heteromeric protein complexes were validated by coimmunoprecipitation and Western blot analysis. When recombinant ficolin-2 and recombinant ficolin-3 were mixed, no complexes were formed. However, when coexpressing ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 in Chinese hamster ovary cells, we could detect ficolin-2/-3 heterocomplexes in the supernatant. Furthermore, we measured concentration of the ficolin-2/-3 heterocomplexes in arbitrary units in 94 healthy individuals. We also established the relationship between the concentrations of ficolin-2, ficolin-3, and the ficolin-2/-3 heterocomplexes. We observed that the concentration of the ficolin-2/-3 heterocomplex correlated significantly with ficolin-2 (ρ: 0.24, p < 0.018) and ficolin-3 concentrations (ρ: 0.46, p < 0.0001). In conclusion, we describe a novel protein complex between ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 present in serum and plasma, which might be of additional biological relevance apart from the native ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 molecules.
- CHO Cells
- Cell Line
- Complement Activation/physiology
- Complement Pathway, Mannose-Binding Lectin/physiology
- Complement System Proteins/metabolism
- Mannose-Binding Protein-Associated Serine Proteases/metabolism