The M3 protein encoded by murine γherpesvirus68 (γHV68) functions as an immune system saboteur by the engagement of chemoattractant cytokines, thereby altering host antiviral inflammatory responses. Here we report the crystal structures of M3 both alone and in complex with the CC chemokine MCP-1. M3 is a two-domain β sandwich protein with a unique sequence and topology, forming a tightly packed anti-parallel dimer. The stoichiometry of the MCP-1:M3 complex is 2:2, with two monomeric chemokines embedded at distal ends of the preassociated M3 dimer. Conformational flexibility and electrostatic complementation are both used by M3 to achieve high-affinity and broad-spectrum chemokine engagement. M3 also employs structural mimicry to promiscuously sequester chemokines, engaging conservative structural elements associated with both chemokine homodimerization and binding to G protein-coupled receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-356
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002


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