Chemoattraction: Basic Concepts and Role in the Immune Response


Chemoattraction is defined as the unidirectional movement of a cell, in response to a chemical gradient of ligands. During chemoattraction, cells move in the direction from a low to a high concentration of the chemoattractant. Chemoattraction is called ‘chemotaxis’ when the ligand gradient is soluble and ‘haptotaxis’ when this gradient is bound to the substrate. Chemoattraction plays a fundamental role in the regulation of the precise location of leucocytes during the immune response and consequently is fundamental for the adequate functioning of leucocytes in the immune system. Classical chemoattractants and chemokines use guanine nucleotide‐binding protein‐coupled seven‐transmembrane‐spanning receptors to relay intracellular signals that regulate chemoattraction. Apart from chemoattraction, chemoattractants and chemoattractant receptors may play additional functions, scavenging, transcytosis or even antimicrobial activities that could also importantly contribute to a correct immune response.

Key Concepts:

  • Chemoattraction is defined as the unidirectional movement of a cell, in response to a chemical gradient of ligands.

  • Chemoattractive factor constitutes a diverse group of chemicals, including lipids, formylated peptides, proteolytic fragments of complement proteins and chemokines, with chemoattractive properties.

  • Alterations in the expression or function of chemokine receptors are involved in a variety of human pathologies.

  • Chemokines are small secreted proteins (8–14 kDa) that display a similar tertiary structure and potent chemoattractive abilities.

  • Chemokines regulate a variety of cell functions in addition to chemotaxis.

Keywords: chemotaxis; haptotaxis; chemokinesis; chemokine; chemokine receptor

Figure 1.

Structure of chemokines. See text for details. Reproduced from Fernandez and Lolis with permission of Annual Reviews. © Annual

Figure 2.

Chemokine‐activated intracellular signalling pathways. AC, adenyl cyclase; Bad, Bcl‐2/Bcl‐XL‐antagonist, causing cell death; Cdc42, small GTPase of the Rho family; DAG, diacylglycerol; Dia, Diaphanous formin protein family; eIF2B, eukaryotic initiation factor 2B; ERK, extracellular signal‐regulated kinase; FA, focal adhesion; GSK3, glycogen synthase kinase 3; IP3, Ins(1,4,5)P3; JAK, Janus kinase; LIMK, LIM‐motif‐containing kinase; MEK, mitogen‐activated protein kinase/ERK kinase; MLCK, myosin light‐chain kinase; MLCP, myosin light‐chain phosphatase; MT, microtubulae organisation, actin/myosin dynamics; mTOR, mammalian target of rapamycin; p70 S6 K, p70 S6 kinase; PAK, p21‐activated kinase; PDK, phosphoinositide‐dependent kinase; PIP2, PtdIns(4,5)P2; PI4P5 K, phosphoinositide 4‐phosphate 5‐kinase; PKA, protein kinase A (cAMP‐dependent protein kinase); PKC, protein kinase C; PLC, phospholipase C; PTK, protein tyrosine kinase; ROCK, Rho‐associated coiled‐coil‐containing kinase; SF, S‐filament; STAT, signal transduction and activator of transcription; WASp, Wiskott–Aldrich syndrome protein and WAVE, WASp‐family verprolin homologous protein. Reproduced from Johnson et al. with permission from the Biochemical Society.



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Rodríguez‐Fernández, José Luis, and Cabañas, Laura Gómez(Sep 2013) Chemoattraction: Basic Concepts and Role in the Immune Response. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000507.pub3]