Transferrin binding to human placental sites was inhibited by the acute-phase proteins alpha 1-antitrypsin (alpha 1-AT) and alpha 2-macroglobulin (alpha 2-MG), whereas haptoglobin, C-reactive protein and ferritin displayed no such effect. In equilibrium saturation binding assays, the effective acute-phase proteins decreased the apparent affinity of the binding sites for transferrin, but the transferrin binding-site density Bmax. was not significantly changed. For instance, the addition of 30 microM alpha 1-AT increased the KD of transferrin from 8.46 +/- 1.51 nM to 21.6 +/- 3.04 nM; the Bmax. values were 1.17 +/- 0.18 pmol/mg of protein and 1.04 +/- 0.25 pmol/mg of protein respectively. In kinetic studies, alpha 1-AT decreased the association rate constant k+1 of the 125I-transferrin-binding-site complex from 2.18(+/- 0.21) x 10(7) M-1.min-1 to 3.99(+/- 0.18) x 10(6) M-1.min-1. In contrast, the dissociation rate constant k-1 was not changed (0.0948 +/- 0.002 min-1, 0.089 +/- 0.0017 min-1). On isoelectric focusing, no alteration in transferrin protein pattern or shift in isoelectric point was detected in the presence of alpha 1-AT. Inhibition of transferrin binding by the acute-phase proteins alpha 1-AT and alpha 2-MG is competitive. Interestingly, inhibition is already present at physiological concentrations. However, full inhibition is only achieved at concentrations above the normal range, which are attained in acute-phase reactions.

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