Chemokine CXCL1 dimer is a potent agonist for the CXCR2 receptor.

Ravindran A, Sawant KV, Sarmiento J, Navarro J, Rajarathnam K. (2013) Chemokine CXCL1 dimer is a potent agonist for the CXCR2 receptor. J Biol Chem. 288(17):12244-52. PMID: 23479735; PMCID: PMC3636908


The CXCL1/CXCR2 axis plays a crucial role in recruiting neutrophils in response to microbial infection and tissue injury, and dysfunction in this process has been implicated in various inflammatory diseases. Chemokines exist as monomers and dimers, and compelling evidence now exists that both forms regulate in vivo function. Therefore, knowledge of the receptor activities of both CXCL1 monomer and dimer is essential to describe the molecular mechanisms by which they orchestrate neutrophil function. The monomer-dimer equilibrium constant (~20 μm) and the CXCR2 binding constant (1 nm) indicate that WT CXCL1 is active as a monomer. To characterize dimer activity, we generated a trapped dimer by introducing a disulfide across the dimer interface. This disulfide-linked CXCL1 dimer binds CXCR2 with nanomolar affinity and shows potent agonist activity in various cellular assays. We also compared the receptor binding mechanism of this dimer with that of a CXCL1 monomer, generated by deleting the C-terminal residues that stabilize the dimer interface. We observe that the binding interactions of the dimer and monomer to the CXCR2 N-terminal domain, which plays an important role in determining affinity and activity, are essentially conserved. The potent activity of the CXCL1 dimer is novel: dimers of the CC chemokines CCL2 and CCL4 are inactive, and the dimer of the CXC chemokine CXCL8 (which is closely related to CXCL1) is marginally active for CXCR1 but shows variable activity for CXCR2. We conclude that large differences in dimer activity among different chemokine-receptor pairs have evolved for fine-tuned leukocyte function.

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