We have reported a transmission electron microscopic study of the two C3 convertases of human complement and their precursors. The corresponding proteins and complexes of the classical and alternative pathway appear very similar. Cofactors C3b and C4b are nearly indistinguishable and display a characteristic but highly irregular substructure. C2 and Factor B are globular with diameters of 85 +/- 8 A and 80 +/- 8 A and both consist of three discrete globular domains each approximately 40 A in diameter. Bb and C2a each contain two domains connected by a short linker segment. Both domains of Bb and one domain of C2a are 42 A in diameter (28 kd), while the second domain of C2 is 47 A in diameter (39 kd). Attachment of the enzymatic subunits to cofactors occurs through one domain only.

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