In 1977, Sobel and co-workers observed saturable and concentration-dependent binding of C1q to B lymphocytes and other cells of a lymphoblastoid lineage. Since then, a number of researchers have observed that C1q, a subcomponent of the first component of complement, is also capable of modulating diverse cellular responses, and this has resulted in an intense search for C1q binding proteins which may be complement C1q receptors.
C1q is the first subcomponent of the C1 complex of the classical pathway of complement activation. Several functions have been assigned to C1q, which include antibody-dependent and independent immune functions, and are considered to be mediated by C1q receptors present on the effector cell surface. There remains some uncertainty about the identities of the receptors that mediate C1q functions.
Some of the previously described C1q receptor molecules, such as gC1qR and cC1qR, now appear to have less of a role in C1q functions than in functions unrelated to C1q. The problem of identifying receptor proteins with complementary binding sites for C1q has been compounded by the highly charged nature of the different domains in C1q. Although newer candidate receptors like C1qR(p) and CR1 have emerged, full analysis of the C1q-C1q receptor interactions is still at an early stage.
In view of the diverse functions that C1q is considered to perform, it has been speculated that several C1q-binding proteins may act in concert, as a C1q receptor complex, to bring about C1q mediated functions. Some major advances have been made in last few years. Experiments with gene targeted homozygous C1q-deficient mice have suggested a role for C1q in modulation of the humoral immune response, and also in protection against development of autoimmunity. The recently described crystal structure of Acrp-30, which is a serum protein secreted from adipocytes, has revealed a new C1q/TNF superfamily of proteins. Although the members of this superfamily may have diverse functions, there may be a common theme in their phylogeny and modular organisation of their distinctive globular domains.
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2. Eggleton P, et al. (1998). C1q - how many functions? How many receptors?. Trends in cell biology, 8(11), 428-431.