C1q-like (C1QL) -1, -2, and -3 proteins are encoded by homologous genes that are highly expressed in brain. C1QLs bind to brain-specific angiogenesis inhibitor 3 (BAI3), an adhesion-type G-protein coupled receptor that may regulate dendritic morphology by organizing actin filaments. To begin to understand the function of C1QLs, we determined high-resolution crystal structures of the globular C1q-domains of C1QL1, C1QL2, and C1QL3. Each structure is a trimer, with each protomer forming a jelly-roll fold consisting of 10 β strands. Moreover, C1QL trimers may assemble into higher-order oligomers similar to adiponectin and contain four Ca(2+)-binding sites along the trimeric symmetry axis, as well as additional surface Ca(2+)-binding sites. Mutation of Ca(2+)-coordinating residues along the trimeric symmetry axis lowered the Ca(2+)-binding affinity and protein stability. Our results reveal unique structural features of C1QLs among C1q/TNF superfamily proteins that may be associated with their specific brain functions.
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