Membranolysis by the ninth component of human complement

Jurg Tschopp, Eckhard R. Podack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The lytic property of isolated C9 was shown by using heat (48°C) to induce polymerization of C9, which was then exposed to egg lecithin vesicles containing carboxyfluorescein. In this environment, C9 penetrated the vesicles and released the marker. C5b-9 and C5b-8 also released carboxyfluorescein at 48°C, as did C5b-7 to a lesser extent. However, neither isolated C5b-6, C7, C8 nor albumin caused such release. At 30°C, the C9 remained in the monomeric form and could not lyse the vesicles. C9 polymers formed at 48°C were ring-shaped with an internal diameter of approximately 100 Å and an outer diameter of approximately 180 Å. These rings of C9 polymers strikingly resembled the ultrastructures formed by the membrane attack complex of complement, viewed from the top. Our results indicate that polymeric C9 causes the membranolysis of phospholipid vesicles and, hence, that C9 alone is a cytotoxic molecule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1409-1414
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and biophysical research communications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 16 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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