Significance: Normal wound healing progresses through a series of overlapping phases, all of which are coordinated and regulated by a variety of molecules, including chemokines. Because these regulatory molecules play roles during the various stages of healing, alterations in their presence or function can lead to dysregulation of the wound-healing process, potentially leading to the development of chronic, nonhealing wounds.
Recent advances: A discovery that chemokines participate in a variety of disease conditions has propelled the study of these proteins to a level that potentially could lead to new avenues to treat disease. Their small size, exposed termini, and the fact that their only modifications are two disulfide bonds make them excellent targets for manipulation. In addition, because they bind to G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), they are highly amenable to pharmacological modulation.
Critical issues: Chemokines are multifunctional, and in many situations, their functions are highly dependent on the microenvironment. Moreover, each specific chemokine can bind to several GPCRs to stimulate the function, and both can function as monomers, homodimers, heterodimers, and even oligomers. Activation of one receptor by any single chemokine can lead to desensitization of other chemokine receptors, or even other GPCRs in the same cell, with implications for how these proteins or their receptors could be used to manipulate function.
Future directions: Investment in better understanding of the functions of chemokines and their receptors in a local context can reveal new ways for therapeutic intervention. Understanding how different chemokines can activate the same receptor and vice versa could identify new possibilities for drug development based on their heterotypic interactions.