C4-binding protein (C4-bp), a new component of the complement system, was isolated from human plasma by precipitation with polyethyleneglycol, followed by chromatography on ion exchangers. C4-bp was identified on sodium dodecyl- sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) by two independent criteria: its ability to bind to C4b, and immunoprecipitation with a monospecificantiserum.
Purified C4-bp is a 10.7 s glycoprotein. It consists of several disulfide bonded subunits of mol wt 70,000 daltons. Under nonreducing conditions, its mol wt has been estimated on SDS-PAGE as 540- 590,000 daltons.
C4-bp moves as a slow B-globulin at pH 8.6 in the absence of free divalent cations, but when the buffers contain Ca(++)-lactate, C4-bp is a gamma globulin.
Purified C4-bp binds to purified C4b. The reaction proceeds in the presence or absence of divalent cations and is not inhibited by diisopropylfluorophosphate. The C4b/C4-bp complexes have sedimentation coefficients between 15 and 17 s on sucrose gradient ultracentrifugation, and can be readily identified by crossed immunoelectrophoresis (CIE). The complexes move faster toward the anode than either protein.
C4-bp is multivalent. Saturation is reached at molecular ratios of C4b/C4- bp of between 4 and 5.
The interaction between C4b and C4-bp may complicate the electrophoretic patterns of these proteins in normal human serum, if the complement system is activated before or during the run. However, in EDTA-plasma, native C4 and C4-bp do not form stable complexes and can be identified in separate peaks after CIE.