Atomic resolution model of the antibody Fc interaction with the complement C1q component

Sebastian Schneider, Martin Zacharias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The globular C1q heterotrimer is a subunit of the C1 complement factor. Binding of the C1q subunit to the constant (Fc) part of antibody molecules is a first step and key event of complement activation. Although three-dimensional structures of C1q and antibody Fc subunits have been determined experimentally no atomic resolution structure of the C1q-Fc complex is known so far. Based on systematic protein-protein docking searches and Molecular Dynamics simulations a structural model of the C1q-IgG1-Fc-binding geometry has been obtained. The structural model is compatible with available experimental data on the interaction between the two partner proteins. It predicts a binding geometry that involves mainly the B-subunit of the C1q-trimer and both subunits of the IgG1-Fc-dimer with small conformational adjustments with respect to the unbound partners to achieve high surface complementarity. In addition to several charge-charge and polar contacts in the rim region of the interface it also involves nonpolar contacts between the two proteins and is compatible with the carbohydrate moiety of the Fc subunit. The model for the complex structure provides a working model for rationalizing available biochemical data on this important interaction and can form the basis for the design of Fc variants with a greater capacity to activate the complement system for example on binding to cancer cells or other target structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibody design
  • C1 globular domain
  • C1q-Fc structure modeling
  • Complement activation
  • Complement component C1
  • IgG-C1q interaction
  • Protein-protein docking


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