Complement in the fundamental processes of the cell

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Abstract

Once regarded solely as an activator of innate immunity, it is now clear that the complement system acts in an assortment of cells and tissues, with immunity only one facet of a diverse array of functions under the influence of the complement proteins. Throughout development, complement activity has now been demonstrated from early sperm-egg interactions in fertilisation, to regulation of epiboly and organogenesis, and later in refinement of cerebral synapses. Complement has also been shown to regulate homeostasis of adult tissues, controlling cell processes such as migration, survival, repair, and regeneration. Given the continuing emergence of such novel actions of complement, the existing research likely represents only a fraction of the myriad of functions of this complex family of proteins. This review is focussed on outlining the current knowledge of complement family members in the regulation of cell processes in non-immune systems. It is hoped this will spur research directed towards revealing more about the role of complement in these fundamental cell processes.

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