N-terminal region of human chemokine receptor CXCR3: Structural analysis of CXCR3(1-48) by experimental and computational studies

R. Raucci, G. Colonna, A. Giovane, G. Castello, S. Costantini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our study on the highly charged N-terminal peptide of the human chemokine receptor CXCR3 by spectroscopic methods in solution and by means of molecular dynamics simulations showed that the charge content modulates the intrinsic structural preference of its flexible backbone. Collectively, our findings suggest that the structural organization of a protein should be seen as a part of a continuum in which the ratio between electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions and the intrinsic flexibility are important properties used to optimize the folding. When this ratio changes and the structure is intrinsically flexible, the structural organization of the system moves along the continuum of the possible conformational states. By all this combined information, one can describe the structure of CXCR3(1-48) as an ensemble of conformations. In fact, the peptide shows stretches of negative charges embedded in a flexible sequence which can be used to maximize promiscuous interactions relevant to molecular recognition but globally the peptide appears as a poly-structured globule-like ensemble that is dynamically stabilized by H-bonds. We have approached the study of the most populated ensembles with subset selection to explain our experimental data also by evidencing that the changes into the fraction of charged residues discriminate between dynamically poly-structured states, conceivably because of small free energy barriers existing between the different conformations of CXCR3(1-48). Therefore, the overlap of a highly flexible backbone, negatively charged residues and sites which can be modified by post-translational modifications represent the structural organization that controls the molecular mechanisms underlying the biological functions carried out by CXCR3(1-48).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1868-1880
Number of pages13
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Proteins and Proteomics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • CXCR3
  • Intrinsic disorder
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Polyelectrolyte
  • Post-translational modification
  • Protein flexibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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