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Pharmacology and pore-forming domains of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator


McDonough, Stefan I. (1994) Pharmacology and pore-forming domains of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/eyre-8424.


The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is a chloride channel member of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) superfamily of membrane proteins. CFTR has two homologous halves, each consisting of six transmembrane spanning domains (TM) followed by a nucleotide binding fold, connected by a regulatory (R) domain. This thesis addresses the question of which domains are responsible for Cl^- selectivity, i.e., which domains line the channel pore.

To address this question, novel blockers of CFTR were characterized. CFTR was heterologously expressed in Xenopus oocytes to study the mechanism of block by two closely related arylaminobenzoates, diphenylamine-2-carboxylic acid (DPC) and flufenamic acid (FFA). Block by both is voltage-dependent, with a binding site ≈ 40% through the electric field of the membrane. DPC and FFA can both reach their binding site from either side of the membrane to produce a flickering block of CFTR single channels. In addition, DPC block is influenced by Cl^- concentration, and DPC blocks with a bimolecular forward binding rate and a unimolecular dissociation rate. Therefore, DPC and FFA are open-channel blockers of CFTR, and a residue of CFTR whose mutation affects their binding must line the pore.

Screening of site-directed mutants for altered DPC binding affinity reveals that TM-6 and TM-12 line the pore. Mutation of residue 5341 in TM-6 abolishes most DPC block, greatly reduces single-channel conductance, and alters the direction of current rectification. Additional residues are found in TM-6 (K335) and TM-12 (T1134) whose mutations weaken or strengthen DPC block; other mutations move the DPC binding site from TM-6 to TM-12. The strengthened block and lower conductance due to mutation T1134F is quantitated at the single-channel level. The geometry of DPC and of the residues mutated suggest α-helical structures for TM-6 and TM-12. Evidence is presented that the effects of the mutations are due to direct side-chain interaction, and not to allosteric effects propagated through the protein. Mutations are also made in TM-11, including mutation S1118F, which gives voltage-dependent current relaxations. The results may guide future studies on permeation through ABC transporters and through other Cl^- channels.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Biology
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Lester, Henry A.
Thesis Committee:
  • Davidson, Eric H.
  • Kennedy, Mary B.
  • Laurent, Gilles J.
  • Revel, Jean-Paul
Defense Date:24 May 1994
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05142013-132218781
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7707
Deposited On:14 May 2013 21:00
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

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