Staphylococcal protein A (PA) and IgG anti-Forssman immunoglobulin formed complexes that behaved functionally like IgM in their ability to lyse sheep erythrocytes (E) in the presence of whole guinea pig complement (GPC) and to fix purified guinea pig C1̄. Concanavalin A, a plant lectin that inhibited IgM but not IgG hemolytic activity, inhibited the hemolytic activity of IgG-protein A complexes that behaved like IgM but had no effect on complexes that behaved functionally like IgG. Since Con A is known to bind specifically to glucose and mannose residues, our results suggested that the interaction of protein A with the Fc region of IgG led to exposure of sugar moieties that may participate in complement (C) binding. The production of IgM-like complexes depended on the ratio of protein A to IgG and the empirical formula of these IgM-like complexes was found to be [(IgG)2PA]n. As the ratio of PA to IgG was increased, the resulting complexes tended to behave functionally like IgG but with reduced hemolytic activity and C1̄ fixing ability. Furthermore, the binding of C1̄ to EIgG was inhibited by PA and the binding of PA to EIgG was inhibited by C1̄ indicating that the binding sites for C1̄ and PA were located near each other or were identical. Our results offer a reasonable explanation for the reported effects of PA or mixtures of PA and IgG in vitro and in vivo.

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