It is known that a key protein in the immune system, C3, bonds with and interacts with up to 40 other proteins and receptors in the blood. But until now it has not been understood what the significance of these bonds might be. In the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature a Swedish-Dutch research team has laid bare the crystal structure of the protein, which may lead to tailor-made treatments for autoimmune diseases.
Scientists at Uppsala University, in collaboration with the universities of Utrecht and Leiden in the Netherlands and Kalmar in Sweden have managed to describe the crystal structure of one of the key proteins in the natural immune system, complement factor C3. This protein was isolated and characterized for the first time here at Uppsala University more than 40 years ago. A large number of studies have shown since then that the protein bonds with and interacts with 30-40 other proteins and receptors in the blood and on white corpuscles. But despite repeated attempts, it had not been possible to determine its crystal structure, and this has hampered our understanding of these bonds.
– The protein is of great importance to the bodys defense against micro-organisms and is one of the main factors in the inflammatory process in many autoimmune disorders,says Bo Nilsson, Department of Clinical Immunology, who directs the research team.
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