We have generated monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific for the C-terminus of factor H that can be used as inhibitory antibodies for heparin binding and for the specific detection of factor H and factor H-related proteins (FHRs) in plasma and triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins. Four distinct mAbs were established: IXF9 (IgG1), VD3 (IgG2a), VIG8 (IgG1) and IIC5 (IgG1). Each reacts specifically with FHR-1 and factor H (and also with FHR-2 in the case of VIG8), but none binds to the related FHR-3 and FHR-4 proteins nor to factor H-like protein 1. By the use of deletion mutants of factor H and by comparing the reactivity with FHR-1 and FHR-2, the binding epitopes of the mAbs were identified and localized to different short consensus repeats (SCRs): mAbs IXF9 and VD3 bind to related or even identical sites within SCR 18 (factor H) and SCR 3 (FHR-1) respectively. mAbs VIG8 and IIC5 bind to different epitopes located within SCRs 19 to 20 of factor H and SCRs 4 to 5 of FHR-1 respectively. Only mAb VIG8 reacts with the corresponding SCRs 3 to 4 of FHR-2. These antibodies are useful for the detection of the corresponding proteins in biological specimens such as fractions of lipoproteins. In addition, mAb VIG8 has the unique feature of inhibiting binding of factor H to heparin. Given the recent identification of a heparin- and a C3b-binding domain within the C-terminus of factor H, these mAbs should provide useful tools for functional analysis and for the precise localization of the domain(s) required for this interaction.

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The two authors made equal contributions.