Oligomerization of chemokine receptors has been reported to influence many aspects of receptor function through allosteric communication between receptor protomers. Allosteric interactions within chemokine receptor hetero-oligomers have been shown to cause negative cooperativity in the binding of chemokines and to inhibit receptor activation in the case of some receptor pairs. Other receptor pairs can cause enhanced signaling and even activate entirely new, hetero-oligomer-specific signaling complexes and responses downstream of receptor activation. Many mechanisms contribute to these effects including direct allosteric coupling between the receptors, G protein-mediated allostery, G protein stealing, ligand sequestration, and recruitment of new intracellular proteins by exposing unique binding interfaces on the oligomerized receptors. These effects present both challenges as well as exciting opportunities for drug discovery. One of the most difficult challenges will involve determining if and when hetero-oligomers versus homomeric receptors are involved in specific disease states.
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