FIGURE 12-7 The alternative pathway of complement activation. Soluble C3 in plasma undergoes slow spontaneous hydrolysis of its internal thioester bond, which leads to the formation of a fluid-phase C3 convertase (not shown) and the generation of C3b. If the C3b is deposited on the surfaces of microbes, it binds factor B and forms the alternative pathway C3 convertase. This conver-tase cleaves C3 to produce more C3b, which binds to the microbial surface and participates in the formation of a C5 convertase. The C5 convertase cleaves C5 to generate C5b, the initiating event in the late steps of complement activation.

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