N. Haspel, D. Ricklin, B. Geisbrecht, J. D. Lambris, and L. E. Kavraki, “Electrostatic Contributions Drive the Interaction Between Staphylococcus aureus Protein Efb-C and its Complement Target C3d.,” Protein Science, vol. 17(11), pp. 1894–1906, 2008.
The C3-inhibitory domain of Staphylococcus aureus extracellular fibrinogen-binding protein (Efb-C) defines a novel three-helix bundle motif that regulates complement activation. Previous crystallographic studies of Efb-C bound to its cognate sub-domain of human C3 (C3d) identified Arg-131 and Asn-138 of Efb-C as key residues for its activity. In order to characterize more completely the physical and chemical driving forces behind this important interaction, we employed in this study a combination of structural, biophysical, and computational methods to analyze the interaction of C3d with Efb-C and the single point mutants R131A and N138A. Our results show that while these mutations do not drastically affect the structure of the Efb-C/C3d recognition complex, they have significant adverse effects on both the thermodynamic kinetic profiles of the resulting complexes. We also characterized other key interactions along the Efb-C/C3d binding interface and found an intricate network of salt bridges and hydrogen bonds that anchor Efb-C to C3d, resulting in its potent complement inhibitory properties.