Identification of alternative pathway serum complement activity in the blood of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

Merchant, M.E.; Roche, C.M.; Thibodeaux, D.; Elsey, R.M.

Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 141(3): 281-288


ISSN/ISBN: 1096-4959
PMID: 15921941
DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpc.2005.03.009
Accession: 012171532

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Incubation of different dilutions of alligator serum with sheep red blood cells (SRBCs) that had not been sensitized with antibodies resulted in concentration-dependent hemolytic activity. This hemolytic activity was not affected by the presence of ammonium hydroxide and methylamine, known inactivators of the classical complement cascade. However, the hemolytic activities were inhibited by EDTA and salicylaldoxime, indicating that the alternate pathway is primarily responsible for these activities. Immunofixation of electrophoretically-resolved alligator serum proteins with antihuman C3 polyclonal antibodies resulted in detection of a protein antigenically similar to human C3 in alligator serum. SDS-PAGE, followed by Western blot analysis, revealed the presence of two alligator serum proteins with nearly identical molecular weights as human C3alpha and C3beta. SRBC hemolysis and antibacterial activity by alligator serum was significantly reduced in the presence of antihuman C3 antibodies. The hemolytic effect of alligator serum was shown to occur rapidly, with significant activity within 5 min and maximal activity occurring at 15 min. SRBC hemolysis was also temperature-dependent, with reduced activity below 15 degrees C and above 30 degrees C. These data suggest that the antibiotic properties of alligator serum are partially due to the presence of a complement-facilitated humoral immune response analogous to that described in mammalian systems.