The chemokine receptor CXCR4 plays a fundamental role in homeostasis and pathology by orchestrating recruitment and positioning of immune cells, under the guidance of a CXCL12 gradient. The ability of chemokines to form heterocomplexes, enhancing their function, represents an additional level of regulation on their cognate receptors. In particular, the multi-faceted activity of the heterocomplex formed between CXCL12 and the alarmin HMGB1 is emerging as an unexpected player able to modulate a variety of cell responses, spanning from tissue regeneration to chronic inflammation. Nowadays, little is known on the selective signaling pathways activated when CXCR4 is triggered by the CXCL12/HMGB1 heterocomplex. In the present work, we demonstrate that this heterocomplex acts as a CXCR4 balanced agonist, activating both G protein and β-arrestins-mediated signaling pathways to sustain chemotaxis. We generated β-arrestins knock out HeLa cells by CRISPR/Cas9 technology and show that the CXCL12/HMGB1 heterocomplex-mediated actin polymerization is primarily β-arrestin1 dependent, while chemotaxis requires both β-arrestin1 and β-arrestin2. Triggering of CXCR4 with the CXCL12/HMGB1 heterocomplex leads to an unexpected receptor retention on the cell surface, which depends on β-arrestin2. In conclusion, the CXCL12/HMGB1 heterocomplex engages the β-arrestin proteins differently from CXCL12, promoting a prompt availability of CXCR4 on the cell surface, and enhancing directional cell migration. These data unveil the signaling induced by the CXCL12/HMGB1 heterocomplex in view of identifying biased CXCR4 antagonists or agonists targeting the variety of functions it exerts. © Copyright © 2020 D’Agostino, Artinger, Locati, Perez, Legler, Bianchi, Rüegg, Thelen, Marchese, Rocchi, Cecchinato and Uguccioni.
- cell migration
- CXCL12/HMGB1 heterocomplex