Human oviductal epithelial (OE) cells produce complement protein 3 (C3) and its derivatives, C3b and inactivated complement-3b (iC3b). Among them, iC3b is the most potent embryotrophic molecule. We studied the production of iC3b in the oviductal cell/embryo culture system. In the immune system, C3 convertase converts C3 into C3b, and the conversion of C3b to iC3b requires factor I (fI) and its cofactors, such as factor H or membrane cofactor protein. Human oviductal epithelium and OE cells expressed mRNA and protein of the components of C3 convertase, including C2, C4, factor B, and factor D. The OE cell-conditioned medium contained active C3 convertase activity that was suppressed by C3 convertase inhibitor, H17 in a dose and time-dependent manner. Although the oviductal epithelium and OE cells produced fI, the production of its cofactor, factor H required for the conversion of C3b to iC3b, was weak. Thus, OE cell-conditioned medium was inefficient in producing iC3b from exogenous C3b. On the contrary, mouse embryos facilitated such conversion to iC3b, which was taken up by the embryos, resulting in the formation of more blastocysts of larger size. The facilitatory activity was mediated by complement receptor 1-related gene/protein Y (Crry) with known membrane cofactor protein activity on the trophectoderm of the embryos as anti-Crry antibody inhibited the conversion and embryotrophic activity of C3b in the presence of fI. In conclusion, human oviduct possesses C3 convertase activity converting C3 to C3b, and Crry of the preimplantation embryos may be involved in the production of embryotrophic iC3b on the surface of the embryos.
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