In the past 20 years, our understanding of the workings of complement regulatory protein, CD46 (membrane cofactor protein), has grown as has the impressive list of pathogens interacting with this membrane-bound complement inhibitor. Referred to as a "pathogen magnet," CD46 serves as a receptor for seven human pathogens. Initially discovered as a widely expressed C3b- and C4b-binding protein, it was subsequently shown to be a cofactor for the serine protease factor I to inactivate by limited proteolysis these two opsonins and components of the convertases. The involvement of CD46 in reproductive processes continues to be an emerging story. It is a protector of placental tissue, but it may also play a more direct role in reproduction through its expression on the inner acrosomal membrane of spermatozoa. Cross-linking CD46 with antibodies or natural or pathogenic ligands induces rapid turnover and signaling events. In this regard, much attention is currently focused on generating human T lymphocyte regulatory cells by cross-linking CD46. Finally, highlighting its importance in protecting cells against excessive complement activation is the discovery that even a heterozygous deficiency of CD46 predisposes to hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-358
Number of pages14
JournalSpringer Seminars in Immunopathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2005


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