The CCR5 protein belongs to the beta chemokine receptors family of integral membrane proteins. It is a G protein–coupled receptor which functions as a chemokine receptor in the CC chemokine group.
CCR5's cognate ligands include CCL3, CCL4 (also known as MIP 1α and 1β, respectively), and CCL3L1. CCR5 furthermore interacts with CCL5 (a chemotactic cytokine protein also known as RANTES).
CCR5 is predominantly expressed on T cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, eosinophils, microglia and a subpopulation of either breast or prostate cancer cells. The expression of CCR5 is selectively induced during the cancer transformation process and is not expressed in normal breast or prostate epithelial cells. Approximately 50% of human breast cancer expressed CCR5, primarily in triple negative breast cancer. CCR5 inhibitors blocked the migration and metastasis of breast and prostate cancer cells that expressed CCR5, suggesting that CCR5 may function as a new therapeutic target. Recent studies suggest that CCR5 is expressed in a subset of cancer cells with characteristics of cancer stem cells, which are known to drive therapy resistance, and that CCR5 inhibitors enhanced the number of cells killed by current chemotherapy. It is likely that CCR5 plays a role in inflammatory responses to infection, though its exact role in normal immune function is unclear. Regions of this protein are also crucial for chemokine ligand binding, the functional response of the receptor, and HIV co-receptor activity.