Investigations into polymorphisms within complement receptor type 1 (CD35) thought to protect against severe malaria
Tetteh-Quarcoo, Patience Borkor
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The human immune-regulatory protein, complement receptor type 1 (CR1, CD35), occurs on erythrocytes where it serves as the immune adherence receptor. It interacts with C3b, C4b, C1q and mannan-binding lectin (MBL). It additionally binds the Plasmodium falciparum protein, Rh4, in the non-sialic acid-dependent erythrocye-invasion pathway, and is also important for rosetting, via an interaction with P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1). A C3b/C4b, and PfEMP1 binding site lies in CCP modules 15-17 (out of 30 in CR1), while polymorphisms that afford advantage to some populations in dealing with severe malaria occur in CCPs 24-25, begging the question central to this thesis – do these polymorphism modulate function, and if so how? We hypothesized that the CR1 architecture apposes CCPs 15-17 and CCPs 24-25 using the exceptionally long linker between CCPs 21 and 22 as a hinge, thus polymorphic variants in CCPs 24-25 modulate functionality in CCPs 15-17. To test this, a panel of recombinant CR1 protein fragments (CCPs 21, 21-22, 20-23, 15-17, 17, 10-11, 17-25, 15-25 and 24-25) were produced in Pichia pastoris along with polymorphic forms of the relevant constructs. After purification, biophysical and biological methods were used to assess whether the linker does indeed act as a hinge, and the comparative abilities of the CCPs 15-25 variants (along with soluble CR1 (sCR1), CCPs 1-3 and the panel of CR1 fragments) to interact with a range of ligands were measured. We found no evidence from NMR for face-to-face contacts between CCPs 21 and 22 that would be consistent with the long linker permitting a 180-degree bend between them. Indeed, based on scattering and analytical ultracentrifugation data, CCPs 20-23 form an extended rather than a bent-back structure. All of the four Knops blood-group variants of the CCPs 15-25 proteins produced similar results according to dynamic light scattering and AUC indicating no structural difference or change in self-association state between variants. In addition, based on the data collected from surface plasmon resonance (SPR), ELISA and fluid-phase cofactor (for factor I) assays, there were no evidence of any difference between the polymorphic forms with respect to their interactions with C3b, C4b, C1q and MBL. Only weak interaction was observed for sCR1, and all CCPs 15-25 variants, with the relevant part of PfEMP1, and there was no measurable difference amongst the variants in disrupting rosettes. The sCR1-Rh4.9 interaction was confirmed by SPR; affinities measured between the binding domain of Rh4 and the panel of CR1 fragments identified CCPs 1-3 (site 1) as the main interaction site. It seemed unlikely therefore that CCPs 24 and 25 could modulate Rh4 binding; indeed none of the four CR1 15-25 variants bound Rh4.9 appreciably. Thus we concluded that allotypic variations in CCPs 24-25 have no measurable effect on the architecture as well as binding of CR1 to its host or parasite ligands The inferred selective pressure acting on these variants likely arise from some other (i.e. besides malaria) geographically localised infectious diseases.