Structural Insights Into How Proteoglycans Determine Chemokine-CXCR1/CXCR2 Interactions: Progress and Challenges

Krishna Rajarathnam, Umesh R. Desai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Proteoglycans (PGs), present in diverse environments, such as the cell membrane surface, extracellular milieu, and intracellular granules, are fundamental to life. Sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are covalently attached to the core protein of proteoglycans. PGs are complex structures, and are diverse in terms of amino acid sequence, size, shape, and in the nature and number of attached GAG chains, and this diversity is further compounded by the phenomenal diversity in GAG structures. Chemokines play vital roles in human pathophysiology, from combating infection and cancer to leukocyte trafficking, immune surveillance, and neurobiology. Chemokines mediate their function by activating receptors that belong to the GPCR class, and receptor interactions are regulated by how, when, and where chemokines bind GAGs. GAGs fine-tune chemokine function by regulating monomer/dimer levels and chemotactic/haptotactic gradients, which are also coupled to how they are presented to their receptors. Despite their small size and similar structures, chemokines show a range of GAG-binding geometries, affinities, and specificities, indicating that chemokines have evolved to exploit the repertoire of chemical and structural features of GAGs. In this review, we summarize the current status of research on how GAG interactions regulate ELR-chemokine activation of CXCR1 and CXCR2 receptors, and discuss knowledge gaps that must be overcome to establish causal relationships governing the impact of GAG interactions on chemokine function in human health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number660
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Apr 24 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • chemokine
  • chondroitin sulfate
  • glycosaminoglycan
  • heparan sulfate
  • heparin
  • nuclear magnetic resonance
  • proteoglycan
  • structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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