Protein Structure and Folding
Swapping N-terminal regions among tick evasins reveals cooperative interactions influencing chemokine binding and selectivityClass A tick evasins are natural chemokine-binding proteins that block the signaling of multiple chemokines from the CC subfamily through their cognate receptors, thus suppressing leukocyte recruitment and inflammation. Development of tick evasins as chemokine-targeted anti-inflammatory therapeutics requires an understanding of the factors controlling their chemokine recognition and selectivity. To investigate the role of the evasin N-terminal region for chemokine recognition, we prepared chimeric evasins by interchanging the N-terminal regions of four class A evasins, including a newly identified evasin, EVA-RPU02.
Structural characterization of anti-CCL5 activity of the tick salivary protein evasin-4Ticks, as blood-sucking parasites, have developed a complex strategy to evade and suppress host immune responses during feeding. The crucial part of this strategy is expression of a broad family of salivary proteins, called Evasins, to neutralize chemokines responsible for cell trafficking and recruitment. However, structural information about Evasins is still scarce, and little is known about the structural determinants of their binding mechanism to chemokines. Here, we studied the structurally uncharacterized Evasin-4, which neutralizes a broad range of CC-motif chemokines, including the chemokine CC-motif ligand 5 (CCL5) involved in atherogenesis.
The chemokine X-factor: Structure-function analysis of the CXC motif at CXCR4 and ACKR3The human chemokine family consists of 46 protein ligands that induce chemotactic cell migration by activating a family of 23 G protein–coupled receptors. The two major chemokine subfamilies, CC and CXC, bind distinct receptor subsets. A sequence motif defining these families, the X position in the CXC motif, is not predicted to make significant contacts with the receptor, but instead links structural elements associated with binding and activation. Here, we use comparative analysis of chemokine NMR structures, structural modeling, and molecular dynamic simulations that suggested the X position reorients the chemokine N terminus.
Engineered anti-inflammatory peptides inspired by mapping an evasin–chemokine interactionChemokines mediate leukocyte migration and homeostasis and are key targets in inflammatory diseases including atherosclerosis, cytokine storm, and chronic autoimmune disease. Chemokine redundancy and ensuing network robustness has frustrated therapeutic development. Salivary evasins from ticks bind multiple chemokines to overcome redundancy and are effective in several preclinical disease models. Their clinical development has not progressed because of concerns regarding potential immunogenicity, parenteral delivery, and cost.
Separating cytokine twins with a small moleculeThe cytokine macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) has been characterized as a key immunomodulator and mediator of various diseases. Small molecule inhibitors based on the conserved enzymatic pocket of MIF have been valuable in elucidating MIF mechanisms and developing translational strategies. In contrast, our mechanistic understanding of the MIF homolog MIF-2/d-dopachrome tautomerase (d-DT) and its clinical translation has been hampered, partly because MIF-2–selective inhibitors have been elusive.
Tick saliva protein Evasin-3 modulates chemotaxis by disrupting CXCL8 interactions with glycosaminoglycans and CXCR2Chemokines are a group of chemotaxis proteins that regulate cell trafficking and play important roles in immune responses and inflammation. Ticks are blood-sucking parasites that secrete numerous immune-modulatory agents in their saliva to evade host immune responses. Evasin-3 is a small salivary protein that belongs to a class of chemokine-binding proteins isolated from the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Evasin-3 has been shown to have a high affinity for chemokines CXCL1 and CXCL8 and to diminish inflammation in mice.
A knottin scaffold directs the CXC-chemokine–binding specificity of tick evasinsTick evasins (EVAs) bind either CC- or CXC-chemokines by a poorly understood promiscuous or “one-to-many” mechanism to neutralize inflammation. Because EVAs potently inhibit inflammation in many preclinical models, highlighting their potential as biological therapeutics for inflammatory diseases, we sought to further unravel the CXC-chemokine–EVA interactions. Using yeast surface display, we identified and characterized 27 novel CXC-chemokine–binding evasins homologous to EVA3 and defined two functional classes.
Crystal Structure of Human Leukocyte Cell-derived Chemotaxin 2 (LECT2) Reveals a Mechanistic Basis of Functional Evolution in a Mammalian Protein with an M23 Metalloendopeptidase FoldHuman leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin 2 (LECT2), which is predominantly expressed in the liver, is a multifunctional protein. LECT2 is becoming a potential therapeutic target for several diseases of worldwide concern such as rheumatoid arthritis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and obesity. Here, we present the crystal structure of LECT2, the first mammalian protein whose structure contains an M23 metalloendopeptidase fold. The LECT2 structure adopts a conserved Zn(II) coordination configuration but lacks a proposed catalytic histidine residue, and its potential substrate-binding groove is blocked in the vicinity of the Zn(II)-binding site by an additional intrachain loop at the N terminus.
Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor-CXCR4 Receptor InteractionsAn emerging number of non-chemokine mediators are found to bind to classical chemokine receptors and to elicit critical biological responses. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is an inflammatory cytokine that exhibits chemokine-like activities through non-cognate interactions with the chemokine receptors CXCR2 and CXCR4, in addition to activating the type II receptor CD74. Activation of the MIF-CXCR2 and -CXCR4 axes promotes leukocyte recruitment, mediating the exacerbating role of MIF in atherosclerosis and contributing to the wealth of other MIF biological activities.
The Anti-inflammatory Protein TSG-6 Regulates Chemokine Function by Inhibiting Chemokine/Glycosaminoglycan InteractionsTNF-stimulated gene-6 (TSG-6) is a multifunctional protein secreted in response to pro-inflammatory stimuli by a wide range of cells, including neutrophils, monocytes, and endothelial cells. It has been shown to mediate anti-inflammatory and protective effects when administered in disease models, in part, by reducing neutrophil infiltration. Human TSG-6 inhibits neutrophil migration by binding CXCL8 through its Link module (Link_TSG6) and interfering with the presentation of CXCL8 on cell-surface glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), an interaction that is vital for the function of many chemokines.
A Combination of Structural and Empirical Analyses Delineates the Key Contacts Mediating Stability and Affinity Increases in an Optimized Biotherapeutic Single-chain Fv (scFv)Antibody v-domains in scFv format often suffer from aggregation and stability issues that restrict formulation.