Intrinsic complement C3 activity is integral to human T helper type 1 (Th1) and cytotoxic T cell responses. Increased or decreased intracellular C3 results in autoimmunity and infections, respectively. The mechanisms regulating intracellular C3 expression remain undefined. We identified complement, including C3, as among the most significantly enriched biological pathway in tissue-occupying cells. We generated C3-reporter mice and confirmed that C3 expression was a defining feature of tissue-immune cells, including T cells and monocytes, occurred during transendothelial diapedesis, and depended on integrin lymphocyte-function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) signals. Immune cells from patients with leukocyte adhesion deficiency type 1 (LAD-1) had reduced C3 transcripts and diminished effector activities, which could be rescued proportionally by intracellular C3 provision. Conversely, increased C3 expression by T cells from arthritis patients correlated with disease severity. Our study defines integrins as key controllers of intracellular complement, demonstrates that perturbations in the LFA-1-C3-axis contribute to primary immunodeficiency, and identifies intracellular C3 as biomarker of severity in autoimmunity.
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