Biochemical characterization of a factor produced by trypomastigotes of Trypanosoma cruzi that accelerates the decay of complement C3 convertases

K. A. Joiner, W. D. DaSilva, M. T. Rimoldi, C. H. Hammer, A. Sher, T. L. Kipnis

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60 Scopus citations


Infective- and vertebrate-stage trypomastigotes of Trypanosoma cruzi resist serum killing by the alternative complement pathway, whereas noninfective vector-stage epimastigotes, from which trypomastigotes derive, are serum-sensitive. This form of developmental preadaptation is commonly observed in protozoan parasites, but its mechanisms are poorly understood. We have demonstrated previously that trypomastigotes spontaneously shed molecules which interfere with formation and accelerate the intrinsic decay of complement C3 convertases, a finding which may explain the evasion of complement lysis by trypomastigotes. We now describe the partial purification and characterization of the T. cruzi C3 convertase inhibitor from the supernatant of culture metacyclic and tissue culture trypomastigotes. Decay-accelerating activity for both classical and alternative pathway C3 convertases copurifies on anion-exchange fast protein liquid chromatography and chromatofocusing with 35S-labeled molecules of 87-93 kDa, pI 5.6-5.8. The labeled components are destroyed by papain and retained on concanavalin A-Sepharose, procedures which remove functional decay-accelerating activity from the supernatant. The 87-93-kDa components are immunoprecipitated by sera from patients chronically infected with T. cruzi, but not by antisera to any known regulatory proteins of the human complement cascade. Lytic activity for tissue culture trypomastigotes in chagasic sera is associated with antibody reactivity against the 87-93-kDa 35S-labeled components and with inhibition of decay-accelerating activity. The T. cruzi factor is the first developmentally regulated microbial complement inhibitor to be biochemically characterized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11327-11335
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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