Posttranslational modification of chemokines is one of the mechanisms that regulate leukocyte migration during inflammation. Multiple natural NH2-terminally truncated forms of the major human neutrophil attractant interleukin-8 or CXCL8 have been identified. Although differential activity was reported for some CXCL8 forms, no biological data are available for others.
Aminopeptidase-cleaved CXCL8(2-77) and CXCL8(3-77), the product of alternative cleavage of the signal peptide CXCL8(-2-77) and the previously studied forms containing 77 and 72 amino acids, CXCL8(1-77) and CXCL8(6-77), were prepared by solid-phase peptide synthesis, purified and folded into active proteins. No differences in binding and calcium signaling potency were detected between CXCL8(1-77), CXCL8(-2-77), CXCL8(2-77) and CXCL8(3-77) on cells transfected with one of the human CXCL8 receptors, i.e. CXCR1 and CXCR2. However, CXCL8(-2-77) was more potent compared to CXCL8(1-77), CXCL8(2-77) and CXCL8(3-77) in signaling and in vitro chemotaxis of peripheral blood-derived human neutrophils. Moreover, CXCL8(-2-77) was less efficiently processed by plasmin into the more potent CXCL8(6-77). The truncated forms CXCL8(2-77) and CXCL8(3-77) had higher affinity for heparin than CXCL8(1-77), a property important for the presentation of CXCL8 on endothelial layers. Upon intraperitoneal injection in mice, elongated, truncated and intact CXCL8 were equally potent to recruit neutrophils to the peritoneal cavity.
In terms of their ability to induce neutrophil recruitment in vivo, the multiple CXCL8 forms may be divided in three groups. The first group includes CXCL8 proteins consisting of 75 to 79 amino acids, cleaved by aminopeptidases, with intermediate activity on neutrophils. The second group, generated through proteolytic cleavage (e.g. by Ser proteases), contains 69 to 72 amino acid forms which are highly potent neutrophil attractants in vivo. A third category is generated through the modification of the arginine in the NH2-terminal region into citrulline by peptidylarginine deiminases and has weak potency to induce neutrophil extravasation.