Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR): closed and open state channel models [Membrane Biology]

July 30th, 2015 by Corradi, V., Vergani, P., Tieleman, D. P.

The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is a member of the ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporter superfamily. CFTR controls the flow of anions through the apical membrane of epithelia. Dysfunctional CFTR causes the common lethal genetic disease cystic fibrosis. Transitions between open and closed states of CFTR are regulated by ATP binding and hydrolysis on the cystosolic nucleotide binding domains (NBDs), which are coupled with the transmembrane domains (TMDs) forming the pathway for anion permeation. Lack of structural data hampers a global understanding of CFTR, and thus the development of rational approaches directly targeting defective CFTR. In this work, we explored possible conformational states of the CFTR gating cycle by means of homology modeling. As templates, we used structures of homologous ABC transporters, namely TM287- 288, ABC-B10, McjD and Sav1866. In the light of published experimental results, structural analysis of the transmembrane cavity suggests that the TM287-288-based CFTR model could correspond to a commonly occupied closed state, while the McjD-based model could represent an open state. The models capture the important role played by Phe337 as a filter/gating residue and provide structural information on the conformational transition from closed to open channel.