In CFTR, the chloride channel mutated in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, ATP-binding-induced dimerization of two cytosolic nucleotide binding domains (NBDs) opens the pore, and dimer disruption following ATP hydrolysis closes it. Spontaneous openings without ATP are rare in wild-type CFTR, but in certain CF mutants constitute the only gating mechanism, stimulated by ivacaftor, a clinically approved CFTR potentiator. The molecular motions underlying spontaneous gating are unclear. Here we correlate energetic coupling between residues across the dimer interface with spontaneous pore opening/closure in single CFTR channels. We show that spontaneous openings are also strictly coupled to NBD dimerization, which may therefore occur even without ATP. Coordinated NBD/pore movements are therefore intrinsic to CFTR: ATP alters the stability, but not the fundamental structural architecture, of open- and closed-pore conformations. This explains correlated effects of phosphorylation, mutations, and drugs on ATP-driven and spontaneous activity, providing insights for understanding CF mutation and drug mechanisms.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols of Semmelweis University (22.1/1935/3/2011).
- Kenton J Swartz, National Institutes of Health, United States
© 2016, Mihályi et al.
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