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Chemokine receptors are 7-transmembrane G protein-coupled receptors that are activated by the binding of one or more chemokines. Chemokines are a family of chemoattractant molecules with more than 50 having been identified to date. They are categorized according to the number and spacing of conserved cysteines into four main groups: CXC, CC, CX3C and C.
Chemokine receptors are found predominantly on leukocytes and are important in leukocyte trafficking, as well as leukocyte-dependent processes such as immune surveillance, immune response and pathological inflammation. Chemokines have a role in angiogenesis, apoptosis, T-cell differentiation and phagocyte activation, while inappropriate or prolonged expression of chemokines and their receptors can lead to autoimmune disease by incorrectly targeting self antigens for destruction by cytotoxic T-cells and macrophages.
There are 19 chemokine receptors and each one has a distinct chemokine and leukocyte specificity, although these specificities can overlap, with a single receptor being able to bind multiple ligands, while a single ligand may be able to bind multiple receptors. In addition, different receptors coexpressed in the same cell may induce the same response and, conversely a single receptor may be able to distinguish activation by different ligands leading to activation of distinct signaling pathways.