Many of the biological activities of the complement system are mediated by complement receptors (CR) expressed on various immune and nonimmune cell types (Table 1). Importantly, only activation products generated during complement activation, but not native complement components, bind to these receptors. In addition, a number of ligands unrelated to complement are known.

Transcriptional control of complement receptor gene expression is an important regulatory step that ensures the specificity and efficiency of CR-mediated responses. Mechanisms that control the expression of the various CR genes evolved so that each receptor is expressed in a cell-specific manner. Importantly, and perhaps this is less appreciated, the expression of CRs at the appropriate amount is required for a balanced cellular response to complement fragments. Furthermore, external stimuli can modulate the expression levels of all CRs, providing additional regulatory opportunities. Our aim here is to discuss (a) the regulation of the expression of CR genes, (b) the stimuli and mechanisms that alter basal levels of expression, and (c) the functional repercussions of altered CR expression.

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