Conserved allosteric hot spots in the transmembrane domains of CFTR channels and MRP pumps [Molecular Biophysics]

May 29th, 2014 by Wei, S., Roessler, B. C., Chauvet, S., Guo, J., Hartman, J. L., Kirk, K. L.

ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters are an ancient family of transmembrane proteins that utilize ATPase activity to move substrates across cell membranes. The ABCC subfamily of ABC transporters includes active drug exporters (the MRPs) and a unique ATP-gated ion channel (CFTR). The CFTR channel shares gating principles with conventional ligand-gated ion channels, but the allosteric network that couples ATP binding at its nucleotide binding domains (NBDs) with conformational changes in its transmembrane helices (TMs) is poorly defined. It is also unclear whether the mechanisms that govern CFTR gating are conserved with the thermodynamically distinct MRPs. Here we report a new class of gain of function (GOF) mutation of a conserved proline at the base of the pore-lining TM6. Multiple substitutions of this proline promoted ATP-free CFTR activity and activation by the weak agonist, AMP-PNP. TM6 proline mutations exhibited additive GOF effects when combined with a previously reported GOF mutation located in an outer collar of TMs that surround the pore-lining TMs. Each TM substitution allosterically rescued the ATP sensitivity of CFTR gating when introduced into an NBD mutant with defective ATP binding. Both classes of GOF mutations also rescued defective drug export by a yeast MRP (Yor1p) with ATP binding defects in its NBDs. We conclude that the conserved TM6 proline helps set the energy barrier to both CFTR channel opening and MRP-mediated drug efflux, and that CFTR channels and MRP pumps utilize similar allosteric mechanisms for coupling conformational changes in their translocation pathways to ATP binding at their NBDs.