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Chemokines belong to a family of proteins called the cytokines and are involved in initiating and guiding the recruitment and migration of immune cells to sites of infection or damage. Chemokines are small in size with a molecular weight of around 6 to 14 kilodaltons and contain around 70 to 125 amino acids.

Around 50 chemokines have been identified to date. Usually, chemokines have four cysteine residues that are key in providing their three dimensional shape. Members of the chemokine family can be divided into four main categories depending on how the first two cysteines are spaced.

CC chemokines

These have two adjacent cysteines near the N-terminus. These are called the CC chemokine ligands (CCLs). Twenty-seven members of this group have been identified and are numbered CCL-1 to CCL-28, as CLL-9 is the same as CCl-10. Most of the chemokines in this family contain four cysteines (C4-CC chemokines) but some contain six (C6-CC chemokines). CC chemokines trigger the movement of monocytes, night vision lasix natural killer cells and dendritic cells.

CXC chemokines

In the case of CXC chemokines, the two cysteines at the N-terminus are separated by an amino acid, which is denoted by an X. Seventeen CXC chemokines have been identified in mammals and are divided into two main groups. Those with the specific amino acid motif -glutamic acid-leucine-arginine – immediately before the first cycteine are termed ELR-positive and those without such a motif are described as ELR-negative.

The ELR-positive CXC chemokines interact with chemokine receptors CXCR1 and CXCR2 on the surface of neutrophils to induce their recruitment. The ELR-negative CXC chemokines mainly act by attracting lymphocytes towards them.

C chemokines

Members of the third group of chemokines are different to all other chemokines because they have only two cysteines, one at the N-terminus and one downstream. Only two of these chemokines have been identified and these are called XCL1 and XCL2.

CX3C chemokines

Members of this group have two cycteines at the N-terminus that are separated by three amino acids. Only one such chemokine has been discovered to date and is called fractalkine (or CX3CL1). It is both released by and bound to the cell that expresses it and acts as both a chemoattractant and a cell adhesion molecule.

CC chemokines
NameGeneOther name(s)ReceptorUniprot
CCL1Scya1I-309, TCA-3CCR8
CCL4Scya4MIP-1ßCCR1, CCR5P13236
CCL6Scya6C10, MRP-2CCR1P27784
CCL7Scya7MARC, MCP-3CCR2P80098
CCL8Scya8MCP-2CCR1, CCR2B, CCR5P80075
CCL9/CCL10Scya9MRP-2, CCF18, MIP-1?CCR1P51670
CCL11Scya11EotaxinCCR2, CCR3, CCR5P51671
CCL13Scya13MCP-4, NCC-1, Ckß10CCR2, CCR3, CCR5Q99616
CCL14Scya14HCC-1, MCIF, Ckß1, NCC-2, CCLCCR1Q16627
CCL15Scya15Leukotactin-1, MIP-5, HCC-2, NCC-3CCR1, CCR3Q16663
CCL16Scya16LEC, NCC-4, LMC, Ckß12CCR1, CCR2, CCR5, CCR8O15467
CCL17Scya17TARC, dendrokine, ABCD-2CCR4Q92583
CCL18Scya18PARC, DC-CK1, AMAC-1, Ckß7, MIP-4P55774
CCL19Scya19ELC, Exodus-3, Ckß11CCR7Q99731
CCL20Scya20LARC, Exodus-1, Ckß4CCR6P78556
CCL21Scya21SLC, 6Ckine, Exodus-2, Ckß9, TCA-4CCR7O00585
CCL22Scya22MDC, DC/ß-CKCCR4O00626
CCL23Scya23MPIF-1, Ckß8, MIP-3, MPIF-1CCR1P55773
CCL24Scya24Eotaxin-2, MPIF-2, Ckß6CCR3O00175
CCL25Scya25TECK, Ckß15CCR9O15444
CCL26Scya26Eotaxin-3, MIP-4a, IMAC, TSC-1CCR3Q9Y258
CCL27Scya27CTACK, ILC, Eskine, PESKY, skinkineCCR10Q9Y4X3
CXC chemokines
NameGeneOther name(s)ReceptorUniprot
CXCL1Scyb1Gro-a, GRO1, NAP-3, KCCXCR2P09341
CXCL2Scyb2Gro-ß, GRO2, MIP-2aCXCR2P19875
CXCL3Scyb3Gro-?, GRO3, MIP-2ßCXCR2P19876
CXCL7Scyb7NAP-2, CTAPIII, ß-Ta, PEPP02775
CXCL9Scyb9MIG, CRG-10CXCR3Q07325
CXCL10Scyb10IP-10, CRG-2CXCR3P02778
CXCL11Scyb11I-TAC, ß-R1, IP-9CXCR3, CXCR7O14625
CXCL13Scyb13BCA-1, BLCCXCR5O43927
CXCL14Scyb14BRAK, bolekineO95715
CXCL15Scyb15Lungkine, WECHEQ9WVL7
C chemokines
NameGeneOther name(s)ReceptorUniprot
XCL1Scyc1Lymphotactin a, SCM-1a, ATACXCR1P47992
XCL2Scyc2Lymphotactin ß, SCM-1ßXCR1Q9UBD3
CX3C chemokines
NameGeneOther name(s)ReceptorUniprot
CX3CL1Scyd1Fractalkine, Neurotactin, ABCD-3CX3CR1P78423



Further Reading

  • All Chemokine Content
  • Chemokines – What are Chemokines?
  • Chemokine Function
  • Chemokine Structural Characteristics
  • Chemokine Receptors

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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