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The complement system is a crucial part of innate immune defenses against invading pathogens. The blood-meal of the tick Rhipicephalus pulchellus lasts for days, and the tick must therefore rely on inhibitors to counter complement activation. We have identified a class of inhibitors from tick saliva, the CirpT family, and generated detailed structural data revealing their mechanism of action. We show direct binding of a CirpT to complement C5 and have determined the structure of the C5-CirpT complex by cryoelectron microscopy. This reveals an interaction with the peripheral macro globulin domain 4 (C5_MG4) of C5. To achieve higher resolution detail, the structure of the C5_MG4-CirpT complex was solved by X-ray crystallography (at 2.7 Å). We thus present the fold of the CirpT protein family, and provide detailed mechanistic insights into its inhibitory function. Analysis of the binding interface reveals a mechanism of C5 inhibition, and provides information to expand our biological understanding of the activation of C5, and thus the terminal complement pathway.

Original publication

DOI

10.1073/pnas.1909973116

Type

Journal article

Journal

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date

23/12/2019

Keywords

X-ray crystallography, complement regulation, inhibitor, innate immunity, single-particle cryo-EM