Ficolins and pentraxins are soluble oligomeric pattern-recognition molecules that sense danger signals from pathogens and altered self-cells and might act synergistically in innate immune defense and maintenance of immune tolerance. The interaction of M-ficolin with the long pentraxin pentraxin 3 (PTX3) has been characterized using surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy and electron microscopy. M-ficolin was shown to bind PTX3 with high affinity in the presence of calcium ions. The interaction was abolished in the presence of EDTA and inhibited by N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, indicating involvement of the fibrinogen-like domain of M-ficolin. Removal of sialic acid from the single N-linked carbohydrate of the C-terminal domain of PTX3 abolished the interaction. Likewise, an M-ficolin mutant with impaired sialic acid-binding ability did not interact with PTX3. Interaction was also impaired when using the isolated recognition domain of M-ficolin or the monomeric C-terminal domain of PTX3, indicating requirement for oligomerization of both proteins. Electron microscopy analysis of the M-ficolin-PTX3 complexes revealed that the M-ficolin tetramer bound up to four PTX3 molecules. From a functional point of view, immobilized PTX3 was able to trigger M-ficolin-dependent activation of the lectin complement pathway. These data indicate that interaction of M-ficolin with PTX3 arises from its ability to bind sialylated ligands and thus differs from the binding to the short pentraxin C-reactive protein and from the binding of L-ficolin to PTX3. The M-ficolin-PTX3 interaction described in this study represents a novel case of cross-talk between soluble pattern-recognition molecules, lending further credit to the integrated view of humoral innate immunity that emerged recently.
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