Background: Exposure of chondroitin sulfate A (CS-A) on the surface of activated platelets is well established. The aim of the present study was to investigate to what extent CS-A contributes to the binding of the complement recognition molecule C1q and the complement regulators C1 inhibitor (C1INH), C4b-binding protein (C4BP), and factor H to platelets.
Principal findings: Human blood serum was passed over Sepharose conjugated with CS-A, and CS-A-specific binding proteins were identified by Western blotting and mass spectrometric analysis. C1q was shown to be the main protein that specifically bound to CS-A, but C4BP and factor H were also shown to interact. Binding of C1INH was dependent of the presence of C1q and then not bound to CS-A from C1q-depleted serum. The specific interactions observed of these proteins with CS-A were subsequently confirmed by surface plasmon resonance analysis using purified proteins. Importantly, C1q, C4BP, and factor H were also shown to bind to activated platelets and this interaction was inhibited by a CS-A-specific monoclonal antibody, thereby linking the binding of C1q, C4BP, and factor H to exposure of CS-A on activated platelets. CS-A-bound C1q was also shown to amplify the binding of model immune complexes to both microtiter plate-bound CS-A and to activated platelets.
Conclusions: This study supports the concept that CS-A contributes to the binding of C1q, C4BP, and factor H to platelets, thereby adding CS-A to the previously reported binding sites for these proteins on the platelet surface. CS-A-bound C1q also seems to amplify the binding of immune complexes to activated platelets, suggesting a role for this molecule in immune complex diseases.