Susceptibility to autoimmune disease is associated with null alleles at one of the two genetic loci encoding complement protein C4. These two genetic loci, C4A and C4B, are highly homologous in primary structure but encode proteins with different functional activities. Expression of C4A and C4B genes is regulated by IFN-gamma in human hepatoma cells and in murine fibroblasts transformed with the respective genes. In these cell lines, IFN-gamma has a significantly greater and longer-lasting effect on expression of C4A than that of C4B. In this study we examined synthesis and regulation of C4A and C4B in peripheral blood monocytes from normal, C4A-null, and C4B-null individuals. Synthesis of C4 in human peripheral blood monocytes decreases during time in culture. IFN-gamma mediates a concentration- and time-dependent increase in steady-state levels of C4 mRNA and a corresponding increase in synthesis of C4 in normal human monocytes. LPS decreases monocyte C4 expression and completely abrogates the effect of IFN-gamma on the expression of this gene. In contrast, LPS and IFN-gamma have a synergistic effect in upregulating expression of another class III MHC gene product, complement protein factor B. The effect of LPS on constitutive and IFN-gamma-regulated C4 synthesis is probably not mediated via release of endogenous monokines IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, or IL-6. Synthesis of C4, and regulation of its synthesis by IFN-gamma and LPS, are similar in normal, C4A-, and C4B-null individuals. These results demonstrate the synthesis of C4 at extrahepatic sites and tissue-specific regulation of C4 gene expression.


J Kulics, H R Colten, D H Perlmutter


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