The chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1)/CXCL12 acting via its G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) CXCR4 has been implicated in neurogenesis, neuromodulation, brain inflammation, HIV-1 encephalopathy and tumor growth. CXCR7 was identified as an alternate receptor for SDF-1/CXCL12. Characterization of CXCR7-deficient mice demonstrated a role for CXCR7 in fetal endothelial biology, cardiac development, and B-cell localization. Despite its ligand binding properties, CXCR7 does not seem to signal like a conventional GPCR. It has been suggested that CXCR7 may not function alone but in combination with CXCR4. Here, we investigated the regional localization of CXCR7 receptors in adult mouse brain using CXCR7-EGFP transgenic mice. We found that the receptors were expressed in various brain regions including olfactory bulb, cerebral cortex, hippocampus, subventricular zone (SVZ), hypothalamus and cerebellum. Extensive CXCR7 expression was associated with cerebral blood vessels. Using cell type specific markers, CXCR7 expression was found in neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocyte progenitors. GAD-expressing neurons exhibited CXCR7 expression in the hippocampus. Expression of CXCR7 in the dentate gyrus included cells that expressed nestin, GFAP and cells that appeared to be immature granule cells. In mice with Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE), CXCR7 was expressed by migrating oligodendrocyte progenitors in the SVZ. We then compared the distribution of SDF-1/CXCL12 and CXCR7 using bitransgenic mice expressing both CXCR7-EGFP and SDF-1-mRFP. Enhanced expression of SDF-1/CXCL12 and CXCR7 was observed in the corpus callosum, SVZ and cerebellum. Overall, the expression of CXCR7 in normal and pathological nervous system suggests CXCR4-independent functions of SDF-1/CXCL12 mediated through its interaction with CXCR7.
Keywords: CXCR7; Chemokine; Chemokine receptor; EAE; Nervous system; SDF-1/CXCL12.