CC chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2) is a part of the chemokine receptor family, an important class of therapeutic targets. These class A G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are involved in mammalian signaling pathways and control cell migration toward endogenous CC chemokine ligands, named for the adjacent cysteine motif on their N terminus. Chemokine receptors and their associated ligands are involved in a wide range of diseases and thus have become important drug targets. CCR2, in particular, promotes the metastasis of cancer cells and is also implicated in autoimmunity-driven type-1 diabetes, diabetic nephropathy, multiple sclerosis, asthma, atherosclerosis, neuropathic pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. Although promising, CCR2 antagonists have been largely unsuccessful to date. Here, we investigate the effect of an orthosteric and an allosteric antagonist on CCR2 dynamics by coupling long-timescale molecular dynamics simulations with Markov-state model theory. We find that the antagonists shift CCR2 into several stable inactive conformations that are distinct from the crystal structure conformation and disrupt a continuous internal water and sodium ion pathway, preventing transitions to an active-like state. Several metastable conformations present a cryptic drug-binding pocket near the allosteric site that may be amenable to targeting with small molecules. Without antagonists, the apo dynamics reveal intermediate conformationsmore »
Chemokines play critical roles in numerous physiologic and pathologic processes through their action on seven-transmembrane (TM) receptors. The N-terminal domain of chemokines, which is a key determinant of signaling via its binding within a pocket formed by receptors’ TM helices, can be the target of proteolytic processing. An illustrative case of this regulatory mechanism is the natural processing of CXCL12 that generates chemokine variants lacking the first two N-terminal residues. Whereas such truncated variants behave as antagonists of CXCR4, the canonical G protein-coupled receptor of CXCL12, they are agonists of the atypical chemokine receptor 3 (ACKR3/CXCR7), suggesting the implication of different structural determinants in the complexes formed between CXCL12 and its two receptors. Recent analyses have suggested that the CXCL12 N-terminus first engages the TM helices of ACKR3 followed by the receptor N-terminus wrapping around the chemokine core. Here we investigated the first stage of ACKR3-CXCL12 interactions by comparing the activity of substituted or N-terminally truncated variants of CXCL12 toward CXCR4 and ACKR3. We showed that modification of the first two N-terminal residues of the chemokine (K1R or P2G) does not alter the ability of CXCL12 to activate ACKR3. Our results also identified the K1R variant as a G more »
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Leukocyte Biology
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- p. 1123-1135
- Oxford University Press
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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