S-protein, the main inhibitor of the assembly of the membrane attack complex of complement, was isolated from human plasma by a simple purification procedure, which includes barium citrate adsorption, ammonium sulphate precipitation, chromatography on DEAE-Sephacel and Blue Sepharose and gel filtration on Sephacryl S-200. The homogeneous protein (sedimentation coefficient 4.6 S) was obtained in approx. 5% yield relative to its concentration in plasma, which was found to be 0.3-0.5 mg/ml. The final product did not cross-react with antisera against complement proteins or other proteinase inhibitors of human plasma. On polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulphate, S-protein migrated as a single-chain band with an apparent Mr of 74000 under non-reducing conditions and as a doublet of Mr 78000 and 65000 upon reduction. In plasma or serum S-protein also existed in two forms of corresponding Mr values, as was evidenced by an immunoblot enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay technique. S-protein was found to be an acidic glycoprotein with 10% (W/W) carbohydrate content and several isoelectric points in the range pH 4.75-5.25, and it contained one free thiol group per molecule of protein. The functional properties of S-protein in the complement system were demonstrated by its ability to inhibit complement-dependent cell lysis in a concentration-dependent manner (Ki 0.6 microM) and by its incorporation into the nascent SC5b-7 complex. A new function for S-protein could be revealed in the blood coagulation system. The slow progressive inhibition of thrombin by antithrombin III was not affected by S-protein, whereas the purified protein interfered with the fast inactivation of thrombin clotting as well as amidolytic activity by antithrombin III-heparin complex. The acceleration of this inhibition reaction by heparin was counteracted by S-protein, indicating the ability of S-protein to neutralize heparin activity.

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