, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 89–106 | Cite as

Two cDNAs from the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, encoding mosaic proteins with domains found in factor H, factor I, and complement components C6 and C7

  • Keri A. Multerer
  • L. Courtney Smith
Original Paper


The vertebrate complement system is composed of about 30 serum and cell surface proteins that make up three activation pathways, a lytic pathway, and a set of proteins that regulate complement. Regulatory proteins are required for host protection against autologous complement attack and to control the amplification feedback loop of the alternative pathway. Purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, homologues of complement C3 (SpC3) and factor B (SpBf) have been identified, suggesting the presence of an alternative complement pathway. This implies that echinoderms require a complement regulatory system for the same reasons that it is required in higher vertebrates. Two cDNAs, Sp5 and Sp5013, have been characterized from coelomocytes and the deduced structures of the encoded mosaic proteins, SpCRL (S. p urpuratus complement related protein, long form) and SpCRS (short form), have domains that are also found in regulatory proteins such as factor H and factor I and the terminal pathway components C6 and C7. These domains include multiple short consensus repeats, a fucolectin domain, Ser/Thr/Pro-rich regions, a Cys-rich region, and a factor I-membrane attack complex domain. The genes are constitutively expressed in all tissues of the sea urchin and are not induced in response to immune challenge. Multiple bands of varying intensity on both genome blots and RNA blots suggest that Sp5 and Sp5013 are members of a small gene family and that they might undergo alternative splicing. Based on the domains present in SpCRL and SpCRS, they might be either examples of complement regulatory proteins or members of the terminal pathway of complement.


Evolution Innate Echinoderm Complement 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Sham V. Nair, David P. Terwilliger, and Dr. Zeev Pancer for their assistance with this research. We are greatly indebted to Fernando Alvarez-Padilla for his assistance in the phylogenetic analysis. We appreciated the helpful suggestions from the anonymous reviewers. This research was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation (MCB-0077970).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Program in Genetics, The Institute of Biomedical SciencesGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Human Biology DivisionFred Hutchinson Cancer CenterSeattleUSA

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