Normal host cells are protected from the destructive action of complement by cell surface complement regulatory proteins. In humans, decay-accelerating factor (DAF) and membrane cofactor protein (MCP) play such a biologic role by inhibiting C3 and C5 convertases. DAF and MCP accomplish this task by specific mechanisms designated decay-accelerating activity and factor I cofactor activity, respectively. In other species, including mice, structural and/or functional homologues of these proteins are not yet well characterized. Previous studies have shown that the mouse protein Crry/p65 has certain characteristics of self-protecting complement regulatory proteins. For example, Crry/p65 is expressed on a wide variety of murine cells, and when expressed on human K562 erythroleukemic cells, it prevents deposition of mouse C3 fragments on the cell surface during activation of either the classical or alternative complement pathway. We have now studied factor I cofactor and decay-accelerating activities of Crry/p65. Recombinant Crry/p65 demonstrates cofactor activity for factor I-mediated cleavage of both mouse C3b and C4b. Surprisingly, Crry/p65 also exhibits decay-accelerating activity for the classical pathway C3 convertase strongly and for the alternative pathway C3 convertase weakly. Therefore, mouse Crry/p65 uses the specific mechanisms of both human MCP and DAF. Although Crry/p65, like MCP and DAF, contains tandem short consensus repeats (SCR) characteristic of C3/C4 binding proteins, Crry/p65 is not considered to be a genetic homologue of either MCP or DAF. Thus, Crry/p65 is an example of evolutionary conservation of two specific activities in a single unique protein in one species that are dispersed to individual proteins in another. We propose that the repeating SCR motif in this family has allowed this unusual process of evolution to occur, perhaps driven by the use of MCP and DAF as receptors by human pathogens such as the measles virus.

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