Characterization of a factor H mutation that perturbs the alternative pathway of complement in a family with membranoproliferative GN

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 Nov;25(11):2425-33. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2013070732. Epub 2014 Apr 10.


Complement C3 activation is a characteristic finding in membranoproliferative GN (MPGN). This activation can be caused by immune complex deposition or an acquired or inherited defect in complement regulation. Deficiency of complement factor H has long been associated with MPGN. More recently, heterozygous genetic variants have been reported in sporadic cases of MPGN, although their functional significance has not been assessed. We describe a family with MPGN and acquired partial lipodystrophy. Although C3 nephritic factor was shown in family members with acquired partial lipodystrophy, it did not segregate with the renal phenotype. Genetic analysis revealed a novel heterozygous mutation in complement factor H (R83S) in addition to known risk polymorphisms carried by individuals with MPGN. Patients with MPGN had normal levels of factor H, and structural analysis of the mutant revealed only subtle alterations. However, functional analysis revealed profoundly reduced C3b binding, cofactor activity, and decay accelerating activity leading to loss of regulation of the alternative pathway. In summary, this family showed a confluence of common and rare functionally significant genetic risk factors causing disease. Data from our analysis of these factors highlight the role of the alternative pathway of complement in MPGN.

Keywords: complement; immunology; membranoproliferative GN (MPGN).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Complement Factor H / chemistry
  • Complement Factor H / deficiency*
  • Complement Factor H / genetics*
  • Complement Factor H / immunology
  • Complement Pathway, Alternative / genetics*
  • Complement Pathway, Alternative / immunology
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Erythrocytes / cytology
  • Erythrocytes / immunology*
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranoproliferative / genetics*
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranoproliferative / immunology*
  • Haplotypes
  • Hereditary Complement Deficiency Diseases
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / genetics*
  • Kidney Diseases / immunology
  • Male
  • Pedigree
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sheep
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Complement Factor H

Supplementary concepts

  • Complement Factor H Deficiency