Fractalkine (CX(3)CL1) is the first described chemokine that can exist either as a soluble protein or as a membrane-bound molecule. Both forms of fractalkine can mediate adhesion of cells expressing its receptor, CX(3)CR1. This activity, together with its expression on endothelial cells, suggests that fractalkine might mediate adhesion of leukocytes to the endothelium during inflammation. Fractalkine is also highly expressed in neurons, and its receptor, CX(3)CR1, is expressed on glial cells. To determine the biologic role of fractalkine, we used targeted gene disruption to generate fractalkine-deficient mice. These mice did not exhibit overt behavioral abnormalities, and histologic analysis of their brains did not reveal any gross changes compared to wild-type mice. In addition, these mice had normal hematologic profiles except for a decrease in the number of blood leukocytes expressing the cell surface marker F4/80. The cellular composition of their lymph nodes did not differ significantly from that of wild-type mice. Similarly, the responses of fractalkine(-/-) mice to a variety of inflammatory stimuli were indistinguishable from those of wild-type mice.
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