The chemokines CXCL9/Mig, CXCL10/IP-10, and CXCL11/I-TAC regulate lymphocyte chemotaxis, mediate vascular pericyte proliferation, and act as angiostatic agents, thus inhibiting tumor growth. These multiple activities are apparently mediated by a unique G protein–coupled receptor, termed CXCR3. The chemokine CXCL4/PF4 shares several activities with CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11, including a powerful angiostatic effect, but its specific receptor is still unknown. Here, we describe a distinct, previously unrecognized receptor named CXCR3-B, derived from an alternative splicing of the CXCR3 gene that mediates the angiostatic activity of CXCR3 ligands and also acts as functional receptor for CXCL4.
Human microvascular endothelial cell line-1 (HMEC-1), transfected with either the known CXCR3 (renamed CXCR3-A) or CXCR3-B, bound CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11, whereas CXCL4 showed high affinity only for CXCR3-B. Overexpression of CXCR3-A induced an increase of survival, whereas overexpression of CXCR3-B dramatically reduced DNA synthesis and up-regulated apoptotic HMEC-1 death through activation of distinct signal transduction pathways. Remarkably, primary cultures of human microvascular endothelial cells, whose growth is inhibited by CXCL9, CXCL10, CXCL11, and CXCL4, expressed CXCR3-B, but not CXCR3-A. Finally, monoclonal antibodies raised to selectively recognize CXCR3-B reacted with endothelial cells from neoplastic tissues, providing evidence that CXCR3-B is also expressed in vivo and may account for the angiostatic effects of CXC chemokines.