Systematic assessment of chemokine ligand bias at the human chemokine receptor CXCR2 indicates G protein bias over β-arrestin recruitment and receptor internalization

Katrijn Boon, Nathan Vanalken, Martyna Szpakowska, Andy Chevigné, Dominique Schols, Tom Van Loy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: The human CXC chemokine receptor 2 (CXCR2) is a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) interacting with multiple chemokines (i.e., CXC chemokine ligands CXCL1-3 and CXCL5-8). It is involved in inflammatory diseases as well as cancer. Consequently, much effort is put into the identification of CXCR2 targeting drugs. Fundamental research regarding CXCR2 signaling is mainly focused on CXCL8 (IL-8), which is the first and best described high-affinity ligand for CXCR2. Much less is known about CXCR2 activation induced by other chemokines and it remains to be determined to what extent potential ligand bias exists within this signaling system. This insight might be important to unlock new opportunities in therapeutic targeting of CXCR2. Methods: Ligand binding was determined in a competition binding assay using labeled CXCL8. Activation of the ELR + chemokine-induced CXCR2 signaling pathways, including G protein activation, β-arrestin1/2 recruitment, and receptor internalization, were quantified using NanoBRET-based techniques. Ligand bias within and between these pathways was subsequently investigated by ligand bias calculations, with CXCL8 as the reference CXCR2 ligand. Statistical significance was tested through a one-way ANOVA followed by Dunnett’s multiple comparisons test. Results: All chemokines (CXCL1-3 and CXCL5-8) were able to displace CXCL8 from CXCR2 with high affinity and activated the same panel of G protein subtypes (Gαi1, Gαi2, Gαi3, GαoA, GαoB, and Gα15) without any statistically significant ligand bias towards any one type of G protein. Compared to CXCL8, all other chemokines were less potent in β-arrestin1 and -2 recruitment and receptor internalization while equivalently activating G proteins, indicating a G protein activation bias for CXCL1,-2,-3,-5,-6 and CXCL7. Lastly, with CXCL8 used as reference ligand, CXCL2 and CXCL6 showed ligand bias towards β-arrestin1/2 recruitment compared to receptor internalization. Conclusion: This study presents an in-depth analysis of signaling bias upon CXCR2 stimulation by its chemokine ligands. Using CXCL8 as a reference ligand for bias index calculations, no ligand bias was observed between chemokines with respect to activation of separate G proteins subtypes or recruitment of β-arrestin1/2 subtypes, respectively. However, compared to β-arrestin recruitment and receptor internalization, CXCL1-3 and CXCL5-7 were biased towards G protein activation when CXCL8 was used as reference ligand.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
Number of pages12
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2024


  • Chemokines
  • CXCL8
  • CXCR2
  • Functional selectivity
  • G protein
  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • IL-8
  • Internalization
  • Ligand bias
  • NanoBRET
  • β-arrestin


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