Complete functional characterization of disease-associated genetic variants in the complement factor H gene

Kidney Int. 2018 Feb;93(2):470-481. doi: 10.1016/j.kint.2017.07.015. Epub 2017 Sep 21.


Genetic analyses in atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) and C3-glomerulopathy (C3G) patients have provided an excellent understanding of the genetic component of the disease and informed genotype-phenotype correlations supporting an individualized approach to patient management and treatment. In this context, a correct categorization of the disease-associated gene variants is critical to avoid detrimental consequences for patients and their relatives. Here we describe a comprehensive procedure to measure levels and functional activity of complement regulator factor H (FH) encoded by CFH, the commonest genetic factor associated with aHUS and C3G, and present the results of the analysis of 28 uncharacterized, disease-associated, FH variants. Sixteen variants were not expressed in plasma and eight had significantly reduced functional activities that impact on complement regulation. In total, 24 of 28 CFH variants were unambiguously categorized as pathogenic and the nature of the pathogenicity fully documented for each. The data also reinforce the genotype-phenotype correlations that associate specific FH functional alterations with either aHUS or C3G and illustrate important drawbacks of the prediction algorithms dealing with variants located in FH functional regions. We also report that the novel aHUS-associated M823T variant is functionally impaired. This was unexpected and uncovered the important contribution of regions outside the N-terminal and C-terminal functional domains to FH regulatory activities on surfaces. Thus, our work significantly advances knowledge towards a complete functional understanding of the CFH genetic variability and highlights the importance of functional analysis of the disease-associated CFH variants.

Keywords: C3 glomerulopathy; complement; hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome / blood
  • Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome / genetics*
  • Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complement Activation / genetics*
  • Complement C3 / immunology
  • Complement Factor H / genetics
  • Complement Factor H / immunology
  • Complement Factor H / metabolism
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Glomerulonephritis / blood
  • Glomerulonephritis / diagnosis
  • Glomerulonephritis / genetics*
  • Glomerulonephritis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Domains
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Spain
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Young Adult


  • C3 protein, human
  • CFH protein, human
  • Complement C3
  • Complement Factor H