Research ArticleInflammation

Chemokine interactome mapping enables tailored intervention in acute and chronic inflammation

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Science Translational Medicine  05 Apr 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 384, eaah6650
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah6650

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Hampering heterodimers interrupts inflammation

Inflammation is dependent on the recruitment of cells responding to chemokines. Von Hundelshausen et al. cataloged how human chemokines interact with each other and found that certain kinds of chemokine pairs can activate or inhibit receptor signaling. These chemokine heterodimers were shown to be active in mouse models of acute and chronic inflammation, which were ameliorated by treatment with a peptide designed to disrupt the chemokine pairing. Patients suffering from inflammatory conditions such as atherosclerosis could benefit from these kinds of therapeutics.


Chemokines orchestrate leukocyte trafficking and function in health and disease. Heterophilic interactions between chemokines in a given microenvironment may amplify, inhibit, or modulate their activity; however, a systematic evaluation of the chemokine interactome has not been performed. We used immunoligand blotting and surface plasmon resonance to obtain a comprehensive map of chemokine-chemokine interactions and to confirm their specificity. Structure-function analyses revealed that chemokine activity can be enhanced by CC-type heterodimers but inhibited by CXC-type heterodimers. Functional synergism was achieved through receptor heteromerization induced by CCL5-CCL17 or receptor retention at the cell surface via auxiliary proteoglycan binding of CCL5-CXCL4. In contrast, inhibitory activity relied on conformational changes (in CXCL12), affecting receptor signaling. Obligate CC-type heterodimers showed high efficacy and potency and drove acute lung injury and atherosclerosis, processes abrogated by specific CCL5-derived peptide inhibitors or knock-in of an interaction-deficient CXCL4 variant. Atheroprotective effects of CCL17 deficiency were phenocopied by a CCL5-derived peptide disrupting CCL5-CCL17 heterodimers, whereas a CCL5 α-helix peptide mimicked inhibitory effects on CXCL12-driven platelet aggregation. Thus, formation of specific chemokine heterodimers differentially dictates functional activity and can be exploited for therapeutic targeting.

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