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Beta-arrestin recruitment and G protein signaling by the atypical human chemokine decoy receptor CCX-CKR.

Watts A.O., Verkaar F., van der Lee M.M., Timmerman C.A., Kuijer M., van Offenbeek J., van Lith L.H., Smit M.J., Leurs R., Zaman G.J., Vischer H.F.

Chemokine receptors form a large subfamily of G protein-coupled receptors that predominantly activate heterotrimeric Gi proteins and are involved in immune cell migration. CCX-CKR is an atypical chemokine receptor with high affinity for CCL19, CCL21, and CCL25 chemokines, but is not known to activate intracellular signaling pathways. However, CCX-CKR acts as decoy receptor and efficiently internalizes these chemokines, thereby preventing their interaction with other chemokine receptors, like CCR7 and CCR9. Internalization of fluorescently labeled CCL19 correlated with β-arrestin2-GFP translocation. Moreover, recruitment of β-arrestins to CCX-CKR in response to CCL19, CCL21, and CCL25 was demonstrated using enzyme-fragment complementation and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer methods. To unravel why CCX-CKR is unable to activate Gi signaling, CCX-CKR chimeras were constructed by substituting its intracellular loops with the corresponding CCR7 or CCR9 domains. The signaling properties of chimeric CCX-CKR receptors were characterized using a cAMP-responsive element (CRE)-driven reporter gene assay. Unexpectedly, wild type CCX-CKR and a subset of the chimeras induced an increase in CRE activity in response to CCL19, CCL21, and CCL25 in the presence of the Gi inhibitor pertussis toxin. CCX-CKR signaling to CRE required an intact DRY motif. These data suggest that inactive Gi proteins impair CCX-CKR signaling most likely by hindering the interaction of this receptor with pertussis toxin-insensitive G proteins that transduce signaling to CRE. On the other hand, recruitment of the putative signaling scaffold β-arrestin to CCX-CKR in response to chemokines might allow activation of yet to be identified signal transduction pathways.

J. Biol. Chem. 288:7169-7181(2013) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]