Glycosaminoglycan-protein interactions and human complement factor H
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are linear polysaccharides expressed ubiquitously on animal cell surfaces and within extracellular matrices. GAGs usually occur as parts of proteoglycans and often accomplish their biological functions through their interactions with proteins. GAG oligosaccharides for this work were produced via enzymatic digest of heparin, followed by gel filtration and ion exchange chromatography. Two tetrasaccharide species obtained from this digest were characterised using 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy. Complement factor H (fH) is a regulatory protein of the alternative pathway of the complement system, a major component of human innate immunity. Acting as a cofactor to factor I, fH inhibits C3b-initiated complement activation on host cells, protecting cells from auto immune attack. This study focused on the interaction of factor H with GAGs, which are thought to be among the markers allowing factor H to distinguish between self and non self surfaces. Binding studies of two heparin-binding sites in fH are presented. These include the C-terminal modules 19 and 20 (fH~19-20) and fH~7-8. FH~7, fH~7-8 and fH~19-20 were produced recombinantly in various isotope forms. The techniques used to study the protein-GAG interactions in this work encompass NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, gel mobility shift assays (GMSA) and chemical cross linking. Several genetic studies suggest that a common polymorphism in the heparin-binding module fH~7, Y402H, plays a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The work presented here included preparation and backbone resonance assignment of a 13C, 15N- labelled sample of fH~ 7-8 via triple resonance NMR experiments. Further NMR experiments were employed to investigate the role of the lysine and arginine sidechains of fH~7 in GAG binding. These studies were combined with the preparation and characterisation of a covalently cross linked GAG-protein complex using NMR and mass spectrometry. A range of fH~19-20 mutations that are linked to a severe kidney disease, atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS), were characterised using GMSA. No correlation between the disease and the heparin binding properties of the aHUS mutants was observed. The mutant proteins were also characterised with respect to their ability to compete with full-length fH in a physiological complement assay. Simultaneous binding of WT fH~19-20 to GAGs and C3d, the relevant fragment of C3b, was assessed using NMR. NMR experiments were also conducted with NK1, which comprises the two N-terminal heparin-binding modules of hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF), and heparin as well as dermatan sulfate-derived GAGs. Relaxation studies on a human defensin, HBD2, were performed to assess the role of GAGs in HBD2 self-association.