Bovine C1q, a subcomponent of the first component of complement, was purified in high yield by a combination of euglobulin precipitation, and ion-exchange and molecularsieve chromatography on CM-cellulose and Ultrogel AcA 34. Approx. 12–16mg can be isolated from 1 litre of serum, representing a yield of 13–18%. The molecular weight of undissociated subcomponent C1q, as determined by equilibrium sedimentation, is 430000. On sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide gels under non-reducing conditions, subcomponent C1q was shown to consist of two subunits of mol.wts. 69000 and 62000 in a molar ratio of 2:1. On reduction, the 69000-mol.wt. subunit gave chains of mol.wts. 30000 and 25000 in equimolar ratio, and the 62000-mol.wt. subunit decreased to 25000. The amino acid composition, with a high value for glycine, and the presence of hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, suggests that there is a region of collagen-like sequence in the molecule. This is supported by the loss of haemolytic activity and the degradation of the polypeptide chains of subcomponent C1q when digested by collagenase. All of these molecular characteristics support the structure of six subunits, each containing three different polypeptide chains, with globular heads connected by collagen triple helices as proposed by Reid & Porter (1976) (Biochem. J.155, 19–23) for human subcomponent C1q. Subcomponent C1q contains approx. 9% carbohydrate; analysis of the degree of substitution of the hydroxylysine residues revealed that 91% are modified by the addition of the disaccharide unit Gal-Glc. Bovine subcomponent C1q generates full C1 haemolytic activity when assayed with human subcomponents C1r and C1s.

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