The complement system augments the humoral immune response, possibly by a mechanism that involves the B lymphocyte membrane receptor, CR2, which binds the C3dg fragment of C3 and triggers several B cell responses in vitro. The present study demonstrates that CR2 associates with a complex of membrane proteins that may mediate signal transduction by ligated CR2. Monoclonal antibodies to CR2 immunoprecipitated from digitonin lysates of Raji B lymphoblastoid cells a membrane complex containing CR2, approximately equimolar amounts of CD19, which is a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily, and three unidentified components: p130, p50, and p20. The complex, which was immunoprecipitated also with anti-CD19, could be dissociated by Nonidet P-40, accounting for its absence in previous studies of CR2. Expression of recombinant CR2 and CD19 in K562 erythroleukemia cells led to formation of a complex that contained not only these two proteins but also p130, p50, and p20, and another component, p14. These unidentified components of the CR2/CD19 complex coimmunoprecipitated with CD19 and not with CR2 from singly transfected cells, indicating primary association with the former. CD19 replicated the capacity of CR2 to interact synergistically with mIgM for increasing free intracellular Ca2+, suggesting that the complex mediates this function of CR2. Therefore, CR2 associates directly with CD19 to become a ligand-binding subunit of a pre-existing signal transduction complex of the B cell that may be representative of a family of membrane protein complexes. This interaction between the complement and immune systems differs from that between immunoglobulin and Clq by involving membrane rather than plasma proteins, and by having complement involved in the afferent phase of the immune response.

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