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Expression of complement C3, C5, C3aR and C5aR1 genes in resting and activated CD4+ T cells

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Complement activation is traditionally thought to occur in the extracellular space. However, it has been suggested that complement proteins are activated and function at additional locations. T cells contain intracellular stores of C3 and C5 that can be cleaved into C3a and C5a and bind to intracellular receptors, which have been shown to be of vital importance for the differentiation and function of these cells. However, whether the origin of the complement proteins located within T cells is derived from endogenous produced complement or from an uptake dependent mechanism is unknown. The presence of intracellular C3 in T cells from normal donors was investigated by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Moreover, mRNA expression levels of several genes encoding for complement proteins with primary focus on C3, C3aR, C5 and C5aR1 during resting state and upon activation of CD4+ T cells were investigated by a quantitative PCR technique. Furthermore, the gene expression level was evaluated at different time points. We confirmed the presence of intracellular C3 protein in normal T-cells. However, we could not see any increase in mRNA levels using any activation strategy tested. On the contrary, we observed a slight increase in C3 and C5aR1 mRNA only in the non-activated T-cells compared to the activated T cells, and a decrease in the activated T-cells at different incubation time points. Our results show that there is a baseline intracellular expression of the complement C3, C5, C3aR and C5aR1 genes in normal CD4+ T cells, but that expression is not increased during T-cell activation, but rather down regulated. Thus, the pool of intracellular complement in CD4+ T cells may either be due to accumulated complement due low-grade expression or arise from the circulation from an uptake dependent mechanism, but these possibilities are not mutually exclusive.

Original languageEnglish
JournalImmunobiology
Pages (from-to)307-315
ISSN0171-2985
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 56256016