Membrane attack by complement involves the self-assembly on membranes of five hydrophilic proteins (C5b, C6, C7, C8 and C9) to an amphiphilic tubular complex comprising approximately 20 subunits. The hydrophilic-amphiphilic transition of the precursor proteins is achieved by restricted unfolding and exposure of previously hidden hydrophobic domains. Restricted unfolding, in turn, is driven by high-affinity protein-protein interactions resulting in the formation of amphilic complexes. Circular polymerization of C9 to a tubular complex (poly C9) constitutes the molecular mechanism for transmembrane channel assembly and formation of ultrastructural membrane lesions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology