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Front. Med. | doi: 10.3389/fmed.2019.00003

The Multitasking Potential of Alarmins and Atypical Chemokines

  • 1Department of Vascular Biology, Institute of Stroke and Dementia Research, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany
  • 2Technische Universität München, Germany
  • 3Wissenschaftszentrum Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, Germany
  • 4Medical Center, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany

When the human genome was sequenced, it came as a surprise that it contains ‘only’ 21,306 protein-coding genes. However, complexity and diversity are multiplied by alternative splicing, non-protein-coding transcripts, or post-translational modifications on proteome level. Here, we discuss how the multitasking potential of proteins can substantially enhance the complexity of the proteome further, while at the same time offering mechanisms for the fine-regulation of cell responses. Discoveries over the past two decades have led to the identification of ‘surprising’ and previously unrecognized functionalities of long known cytokines, inflammatory mediators, and intracellular proteins that have established novel molecular networks in physiology, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. In this mini-review, we focus on alarmins and atypical chemokines such as high-mobility group box protein-1 (HMGB-1) and macrophage migration-inhibitory factor (MIF)-type proteins that are prototypical examples of these classes, featuring a remarkable multitasking potential that allows for an elaborate finetuning of molecular networks in the extra- and intracellular space that may eventually give rise to novel ‘task’-based precision medicine intervention strategies.

Keywords: alarmin, cytokine, chemokine, Inflammation, Cardiovasclar disease, MIF — macrophage migration inhibitory factor, HMGB1 (high-mobility group box 1)

Received: 09 Nov 2018; Accepted: 04 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Klaus T. Preissner, University of Giessen, Germany

Reviewed by:

Andreas Ludwig, RWTH Aachen Universität, Germany
Rory R. Koenen, Maastricht University, Netherlands  

Copyright: © 2019 Bernhagen, Prof. Dr., Kapurniotu and Gokce. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jürgen Bernhagen, Prof. Dr., Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Department of Vascular Biology, Institute of Stroke and Dementia Research, Munich, Germany, juergen.bernhagen@med.uni-muenchen.de