Chemokine receptors play fundamental roles in human physiology from embryogenesis to inflammatory response. The receptors belong to the G-protein coupled receptor class, and are activated by chemokine ligands with a range of specificities and affinities that result in a complicated network of interactions. The molecular basis for function is largely a black box, and can be directly attributed to the lack of structural information on the receptors. Studies to date indicate that function can be best described by a two-site model, that involves interactions between the receptor N-domain and ligand N-terminal loop residues (site-I), and between receptor extracellular loop and the ligand N-terminal residues (site-II). In this review, we describe how the two-site model could modulate binding affinity and ligand selectivity, and also highlight some of the unique chemokine receptor features, and their role in function.

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