Identification of a conserved chemokine receptor motif that enables ligand discrimination

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Extensive ligand-receptor promiscuity in the chemokine signaling system balances beneficial redundancy and specificity. However, this feature poses a major challenge to selectively modulate the system pharmacologically. Here, we identified a conserved cluster of three aromatic receptor residues that anchors the second extracellular loop (ECL2) to the top of receptor transmembrane helices (TM) 4 and 5 and enables recognition of both shared and specific characteristics of interacting chemokines. This cluster was essential for the activation of several chemokine receptors. Furthermore, characteristic motifs of the ß1 strand and 30s loop make the two main CC-chemokine subgroups-the macrophage inflammatory proteins (MIPs) and monocyte chemoattractant proteins (MCPs)-differentially dependent on this cluster in the promiscuous receptors CCR1, CCR2, and CCR5. The cluster additionally enabled CCR1 and CCR5 to discriminate between closely related MIPs based on the N terminus of the chemokine. G protein signaling and β-arrestin2 recruitment assays confirmed the importance of the conserved cluster in receptor discrimination of chemokine ligands. This extracellular site may facilitate the development of chemokine-related therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabg7042
JournalScience Signaling
Issue number724
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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