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J Biol Chem. 2009 Dec 11;284(50):35240-50. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.024851. Epub 2009 Oct 18.

Structural basis of the interaction between chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1/CXCL12 and its G-protein-coupled receptor CXCR4.

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  • 1Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Hongo 7-3-1, Bunkyo-ku, Japan.


The chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1/CXCL12) and its G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) CXCR4 play fundamental roles in many physiological processes, and CXCR4 is a drug target for various diseases such as cancer metastasis and human immunodeficiency virus, type 1, infection. However, almost no structural information about the SDF-1-CXCR4 interaction is available, mainly because of the difficulties in expression, purification, and crystallization of CXCR4. In this study, an extensive investigation of the preparation of CXCR4 and optimization of the experimental conditions enables NMR analyses of the interaction between the full-length CXCR4 and SDF-1. We demonstrated that the binding of an extended surface on the SDF-1 beta-sheet, 50-s loop, and N-loop to the CXCR4 extracellular region and that of the SDF-1 N terminus to the CXCR4 transmembrane region, which is critical for G-protein signaling, take place independently by methyl-utilizing transferred cross-saturation experiments along with the usage of the CXCR4-selective antagonist AMD3100. Furthermore, based upon the data, we conclude that the highly dynamic SDF-1 N terminus in the 1st step bound state plays a crucial role in efficiently searching the deeply buried binding pocket in the CXCR4 transmembrane region by the "fly-casting" mechanism. This is the first structural analyses of the interaction between a full-length GPCR and its chemokine, and our methodology would be applicable to other GPCR-ligand systems, for which the structural studies are still challenging.

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