ACKR3-arrestin2/3 complexes reveal molecular consequences of GRK-dependent barcoding

Qiuyan Chen, Christopher T Schafer, Somnath Mukherjee, Martin Gustavsson, Parth Agrawal, Xin-Qiu Yao, Anthony A Kossiakoff, Tracy M Handel, John J G Tesmer

bioRxiv 2023 Jul 19, 2023

PMID: 37502840 PMCID: PMC10370059 DOI: 10.1101/2023.07.18.549504

Atypical chemokine receptor 3 (ACKR3, also known as CXCR7) is a scavenger receptor that regulates extracellular levels of the chemokine CXCL12 to maintain responsiveness of its partner, the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), CXCR4. ACKR3 is notable because it does not couple to G proteins and instead is completely biased towards arrestins. Our previous studies revealed that GRK2 and GRK5 install distinct distributions of phosphates (or “barcodes”) on the ACKR3 carboxy-terminal tail, but how these unique barcodes drive different cellular outcomes is not understood. It is also not known if arrestin2 (Arr2) and 3 (Arr3) bind to these barcodes in distinct ways. Here we report cryo-electron microscopy structures of Arr2 and Arr3 in complex with ACKR3 phosphorylated by either GRK2 or GRK5. Unexpectedly, the finger loops of Arr2 and 3 directly insert into the detergent/membrane instead of the transmembrane core of ACKR3, in contrast to previously reported “core” GPCR-arrestin complexes. The distance between the phosphorylation barcode and the receptor transmembrane core regulates the interaction mode of arrestin, alternating between a tighter complex for GRK5 sites and heterogenous primarily “tail only” complexes for GRK2 sites. Arr2 and 3 bind at different angles relative to the core of ACKR3, likely due to differences in membrane/micelle anchoring at their C-edge loops. Our structural investigations were facilitated by Fab7, a novel Fab that binds both Arr2 and 3 in their activated states irrespective of receptor or phosphorylation status, rendering it a potentially useful tool to aid structure determination of any native GPCR-arrestin complex. The structures provide unprecedented insight into how different phosphorylation barcodes and arrestin isoforms can globally affect the configuration of receptor-arrestin complexes. These differences may promote unique downstream intracellular interactions and cellular responses. Our structures also suggest that the 100% bias of ACKR3 for arrestins is driven by the ability of arrestins, but not G proteins, to bind GRK-phosphorylated ACKR3 even when excluded from the receptor cytoplasmic binding pocket.