C1q separated from C1r and C1s and from other stabilizing proteins tends to aggregate easily. Because it was isolated and studied in numerous research laboratories, many buffers have been used to stabilize concentrated C1q and prevent aggregation. About half of the scientists prefer high salt and the other prefer 40% glycerol in the storage buffer. Thus, CompTech sells C1q at 1 mg/mL in both buffers A099 in high salt and A100 in salt plus 40% glycerol). No measurable difference in functional activity, storage stability or aggregation has been detected at CompTech, but strong preferences still persist in the research community.
C1q is purified from pooled normal human plasma. C1q is part of the C1 complex and this complex is the first complement component in the cascade referred to as the classical pathway of complement. C1 is actually a non-covalent assembly of three different proteins (C1q, C1r, and C1s) bound together in a calcium-dependent complex. C1q has six extended arms with domains at the end of each arm that bind to the Fc domains of immunoglobulins. When antibodies bind to antigens forming immune complexes they cluster allowing two or more of its six arms of C1q to bind to the Fc domains of antibodies such as IgG or IgM. The binding of multiple arms to immune complexes causes the two C1r proteins in the complex (protease zymogens) to auto-activate producing two C1r proteases that cleave and activate the two C1s protease zymogens in the complex. Activated C1s cleaves complement component C4 releasing C4a and initiating covalent attachment of C4b to the activating surface. Activated C1s also cleaves C2 and the larger fragment of C2 binds to the surface-attached C4b forming C4b,C2a which is the C3/C5 convertase of the classical pathway.
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