Atypical chemokine receptors (ACRs) are cell surface receptors with seven transmembrane domains structurally homologous to chemokine G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). However, upon ligation by cognate chemokines, ACRs fail to induce classical signaling and downstream cellular responses characteristic for GPCRs. Despite this, by affecting chemokine availability and function, ACRs impact on a multitude of pathophysiological events and have emerged as important molecular players in health and disease. This review discusses individual characteristics of the currently known ACRs, highlights their similarities and differences and attempts to establish their group identity. It summarizes the progress made in mapping ACR expression, understanding their diverse in vitro and in vivo functions of ACRs and uncovering their contributions to disease pathogeneses.
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