C4b and C2a bind to form the classical pathway C3-convertase (C4bC2a), C3b and the Bb fragment of Factor B form the alternative pathway C3 convertase (C3bBb). The C3(H2O):Bb C3 convertase is sometimes called the initiating convertase, and the C5 convertases also have C3 convertase activity (Rawal & Pangburn 2001).
All three pathways merge at the proteolytic cleavage of component C3 by C3 convertases to form two fragments C3b and C3a. The cleavage of component C3 exposes a reactive thioester bond on C3b, leading to the covalent attachment of C3b to glycoproteins on the target cell surface (Law SK et al. 1979; Tack BF et al. 1980). The opsonization with C3b enables the recruitment of phagocytes (Newman SL et al. 1985; Gadjeva M et al. 1998). In addition, C3b anchors the assembly of C3/C5 convertases leading to an amplification of C3 cleavage and effecting C5 activation (Fearon DT 1979; Takata Y et al 1987; Kinoshita T et al. 1988). Moreover, the activation of C3b exposes binding sites for factors B, H and I, properdin, decay accelerating factor (DAF), membrane cofactor protein (MCP), complement receptor 1 (CR1) and microbial molecules such as vaccinia virus complement-control protein and staphylococcal complement inhibitor (SCIN) from Staphylococcus aureus (Forneris F et al. 2010; Morgan HP et al. 2011; Nilsson SC et al. 2010; Lambris JD et al. 1984; Medof ME et al.1984; Barilla-LaBarca ML et al. 2002; Smith BO et al. 2002; Bernet J et al. 2004; Garcia Bl et al. 2010) . C3b associates with these molecules to mediate the activation, amplification and regulation of the complement response.