Complement Activation Occurs at the Surface of Platelets Activated by Streptococcal M1 Protein and This Results in Phagocytosis of Platelets.


Division of Infection Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, SE-22184 Lund, Sweden [Email]


Platelets circulate the bloodstream and principally maintain hemostasis. Disturbed hemostasis, a dysregulated inflammatory state, and a decreased platelet count are all hallmarks of severe invasive Streptococcus pyogenes infection, sepsis. We have previously demonstrated that the released M1 protein from S. pyogenes activates platelets, and this activation is dependent on the binding of M1 protein, fibrinogen, and M1-specific IgG to platelets in susceptible donors. In this study, we characterize the M1-associated protein interactions in human plasma and investigate the acquisition of proteins to the surface of activated platelets and the consequences for platelet immune function. Using quantitative mass spectrometry, M1 protein was determined to form a protein complex in plasma with statistically significant enrichment of fibrinogen, IgG3, and complement components, especially C1q. Using flow cytometry, these plasma proteins were also confirmed to be acquired to the platelet surface, resulting in complement activation on M1-activated human platelets. Furthermore, we demonstrated an increased phagocytosis of M1-activated platelets by monocytes, which was not observed with other physiological platelet agonists. This reveals a novel mechanism of complement activation during streptococcal sepsis, which contributes to the platelet consumption that occurs in sepsis.