Despite the wide range of sequence diversity among chemokines, their tertiary structures are remarkably similar. Furthermore, many chemokines form dimers or higher order oligomers, but all characterized oligomeric structures are based primarily on two dimerization motifs represented by CC-chemokine or CXC-chemokine dimer interfaces. These observations raise the possibility that some chemokines could form unique hetero-oligomers using the same oligomerization motifs. Such interactions could modulate the overall signaling response of the receptors, thereby providing a general mechanism for regulating chemokine function. For some chemokines, homo-oligomerization has also been shown to be coupled to glycosaminoglycan (GAG)-binding. However, the effect of GAG binding on chemokine hetero-oligomerization has not yet been demonstrated. In this report, we characterized the heterodimerization of the CCR2 ligands MCP-1 (CCL2), MCP-2 (CCL8), MCP-3 (CCL7), MCP-4 (CCL13), and eotaxin (CCL11), as well as the effects of GAG binding, using electrospray ionization Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (ESI-FTICR) mass spectrometry. Strong heterodimerization was observed between CCL2 and CCL8 at the expense of homodimer formation. Using NMR, we showed that the heterodimer is predominant in solution and forms a specific CC chemokine-like dimer. By contrast, only moderate heterodimer formation was observed between CCL2·CCL13, CCL2·CCL11 and CCL8·CCL13, and no heterodimerization was observed when any other CCR2 ligand was added to CCL7. To investigate the effect of a highly sulfated GAG on the formation of heterodimers, each chemokine pair was mixed with the heparin pentasaccharide, Arixtra, and assayed by ESI-FTICR mass spectrometry. Although no CCL8·CCL11 heterodimer was observed in the absence of GAG, abundant ions corresponding to the ternary complex, CCL8·CCL11·Arixtra, were observed upon addition of Arixtra. Heterodimerization between CCL2 and CCL11 was also enhanced in the presence of Arixtra. In summary, these results indicate that some CCR2 ligands can form stable heterodimers in preference to homodimers and that these interactions, like those of homo-oligomers, can be influenced by some GAGs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas