This work describes the functional characterization, cDNA cloning, and expression of a novel cell surface protein. This protein designated gC1q-R, was first isolated from Raji cells and was found to bind to the globular "heads" of C1q molecules, at physiological ionic strength, and also to inhibit complement-mediated lysis of sheep erythrocytes by human serum. The NH2-terminal amino acid sequence of the first 24 residues of the C1q-binding protein was determined and this information allowed the synthesis of two degenerate polymerase chain reaction primers for use in the preparation of a probe in the screening of a B cell cDNA library. The cDNA isolated, using this probe, was found to encode a pre-pro protein of 282 residues. The NH2 terminus of the protein isolated from Raji cells started at residue 74 of the predicted pre-pro sequence. The cDNA sequence shows that the purified protein has three potential N-glycosylation residues and is a highly charged, acidic molecule. Hence, its binding to C1q may be primarily but not exclusively due to ionic interactions. The "mature" protein, corresponding to amino acid residues 74-282 of the predicted pre-pro sequence, was overexpressed in Escherichia coli and was purified to homogeneity. This recombinant protein was also able to inhibit the complement-mediated lysis of sheep erythrocytes by human serum and was shown to be a tetramer by gel filtration in nondissociating conditions. Northern blot and RT-PCR studies showed that the C1q-binding protein is expressed at high levels in Raji and Daudi cell lines, at moderate levels in U937, Molt-4, and HepG2 cell lines, and at a very low level in the HL60 cell line. However, it is not expressed in the K562 cell line. Comparison of gC1q-R NH2-terminal sequence with that of the receptor for the collagen-like domain of C1q (cC1q-R) showed no similarity. Furthermore, antibodies to gC1q-R or an 18-amino acid residue-long NH2-terminal synthetic gC1q-R peptide did not cross-react with antibodies to cC1q-R. Anti-gC1q-R immunoblotted a 33-kD Raji cell membrane protein, whereas anti cC1q-R recognized a molecule of approximately 60 kD. The NH2-terminal sequence of gC1g-R appears to be displayed extracellularly since anti-gC1g-R peptide reacted with surface molecules on lymphocytes, polymorphonuclear leukocytes, and platelets, as assessed by flow cytometric and confocal laser scanning microscopic analyses.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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