Chemokine receptor tyrosine sulfation plays a key role in the binding of chemokines. It has been suggested that receptor sulfation is heterogeneous, but no experimental evidence has been provided so far. The potent anti-HIV chemokine analog 5P12-RANTES has been proposed to owe its inhibitory activity to a capacity to bind a larger pool of cell surface CCR5 receptors than native chemokines such as CCL5, but the molecular details underlying this phenomenon have not been elucidated.
We investigated the CCR5 sulfation heterogeneity and the sensitivity of CCR5 ligands to receptor sulfation by performing ELISA assays on synthetic N-terminal sulfopeptides and by performing binding assays on CCR5-expressing cells under conditions that modulate CCR5 sulfation levels.
Two commonly used anti-CCR5 monoclonal antibodies with epitopes in the sulfated N-terminal domain of CCR5 show contrasting binding profiles on CCR5 sulfopeptides, incomplete competition with each other for cell surface CCR5, and opposing sensitivities to cellular treatments that affect CCR5 sulfation levels. 5P12-RANTES is less sensitive than native CCL5 to conditions that affect cellular CCR5 sulfation.
CCR5 sulfation is heterogeneous and this affects the binding properties of both native chemokines and antibodies. Enhanced capacity to bind to CCR5 is a component of the inhibitory mechanism of 5P12-RANTES.
We provide the first experimental evidence for sulfation heterogeneity of chemokine receptors and its impact on ligand binding, a phenomenon that is important both for the understanding of chemokine cell biology and for the development of drugs that target chemokine receptors.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.