A sensitive specific hemolytic assay for proenzyme C1.
The traditional hemolytic assay of the functional activity of C1, the first component of the classical complement pathway, was modified to permit differentiation between proenzyme (unactivated) C1 and the activated state of the enzyme (C1). A two-step assay was developed to quantitate proenzyme C1. The C1 sample to be assayed was first preincubated with C1 inhibitor, a process that specifically inhibits the enzymatic activity of C1 without affecting the subsequent activation of proenzyme C1 by EAC4, a model immune complex. Since the rate of reaction between C1 inhibitor, a serum regulatory protein, and C1 is concentration-dependent, this step is performed at high C1 and C1 inhibitor concentrations. Subsequent dilutions of the sample prevents C1 inhibitor-mediated inactivation of the C1 that is activated during the C1 hemolytic assay. Thus, in the presence of C1 inhibitor, the level of C1 hemolytic activity specifically reflects the activity of proenzyme C1, while in the absence of C1 inhibitor, the hemolytic activity reflects the total activity of C1. Both the absolute and the relative amounts of the proenzyme (unactivated) and activated C1 can thereby be quantitated in most samples. Furthermore, a partially purified C1 inhibitor reagent, easily prepared from serum, was shown to function identically to the purified C1 inhibitor, obviating the need for a multistep isolation procedure for this protein. Using this simple yet sensitive assay to investigate the efficiency of reconstitution of C1 activity from the purified components C1q, C1r, and C1s, we also find evidence for temperature- and concentration-dependent reaction steps in the formation of functional C1.
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