Background: The anaphylatoxin C5a is a powerful proinflammatory protein generated on activation of the complement system. Recently, we described an anti-hC5a neoepitope specific mAb, mAb 2925, which was raised against the nonapeptide ISHKDMQLG (C5a-(65-73). This mAb is unique in that it recognizes both hC5a and hC5a(desArg), even when it is denatured. It inhibits binding of [125I]C5a to its receptor on Bt2-cAMP differentiated U937 cells. Objectives: To define the epitope of mAb 2925, we used a combined approach of a bacteriophage random octapeptide library, synthetic peptides and site-directed mutagenesis. Study design: First a phage peptide library was screened with the anti C5a mAb 2925. Then synthetic peptides were synthesized with respect to the sequence information yielded from the phage approach, and used for binding studies. Site-directed mutagenesis was performed to confirm the results from the mapping experiments. Results and conclusion: Most phages selected by biotinylated Fab 2925 displayed sequences on the minor coat protein which correspond to residues within the C-terminus of human C5a. A first consensus motif comprised amino acids His-Lys or His-Arg, which allowed us to define position 67 and 68 as part of the epitope. A second consensus motif was selected, comprising Arg/Lys-Trp-Trp. This motif did not match any residues within the C5a C-terminus. However, when expressed together with the consensus motif His-Arg, as in HRWWXXXX or in HRXKWWXX, binding of these peptides to Fab 2925 increased as compared to peptides expressing the His-Arg motif only. Thus, the Arg/Lys-Trp-Trp motif serves to stabilize the binding of His-Arg to mAb 2925. Synthetic peptide studies revealed further N-terminal residues Ile65 and Ser66 as part of the epitope. A C5a mutant with an exchange Lys68Glu (C5a(Glu68)) confirmed the participation of Lys68as a contact residue within the epitope of mAb 2925. Hence, the epitope recognized by mAb 2925 is linear and comprises residues Ile65, Ser66, His67, and Lys68. Thus, we could demonstrate for the first time that a mAb inhibits C5a receptor binding through specific interaction with receptor binding residues of the ligand.
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