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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Dec 12;103(50):19182-7. Epub 2006 Dec 5.

Proteolytic processing of SDF-1alpha reveals a change in receptor specificity mediating HIV-associated neurodegeneration.

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Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2S2.


Proteolytic cleavage of constitutively expressed proteins can generate peptides with novel bioactive properties. Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 cleaves the 4 amino-terminal residues of the chemokine, stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-1alpha, yielding a highly neurotoxic molecule, SDF(5-67), which fails to bind to its cognate receptor, CXCR4. Herein, we detected SDF(5-67) in brain monocytoid cells of HIV-infected persons, particularly in those with HIV-associated dementia. SDF(5-67) activated cell type-specific expression of proinflammatory genes including IL-1beta, TNFalpha, indoleamine 2',3'-dioxygenase (IDO), and IL-10 in both astrocytic and monocytoid cells (P < 0.05). Unlike SDF-1alpha, SDF(5-67) caused neuronal membrane perturbations with ensuing neurotoxicity and apoptosis (P < 0.05) through engagement of an inducible receptor. CXCR3 antagonists and siRNA-mediated knockdown of CXCR3 inhibited SDF(5-67)-stimulated neurophysiological changes, neuronal death, and neuroimmune activation (P < 0.05). Moreover SDF(5-67) bound directly to CXCR3 in a competitive manner, mediated by its amino terminus. In vivo neuroinflammation, neuronal loss, and neurobehavioral abnormalities caused by SDF(5-67) (P < 0.05) were prevented by a CXCR3 antagonist. These studies reveal additive neuropathogenic properties exerted by a proteolytically cleaved chemokine as consequences of a change in receptor specificity, culminating in neurodegeneration.

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