Mutations in the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) gene affect CFTR protein biogenesis or its function as a chloride channel, resulting in dysregulation of epithelial fluid transport in the lung, pancreas and other organs in cystic fibrosis (CF). Development of pharmaceutical strategies to treat CF requires understanding of the mechanisms underlying channel function. However, incomplete 3D structural information on the unique ABC ion channel, CFTR, hinders elucidation of its functional mechanism and correction of cystic fibrosis causing mutants. Several CFTR homology models have been developed using bacterial ABC transporters as templates but these have low sequence similarity to CFTR and are not ion channels. Here, we refine an earlier model in an outward (OWF) and develop an inward (IWF) facing model employing an integrated experimental-molecular dynamics simulation (200 ns) approach. Our IWF structure agrees well with a recently solved cryo-EM structure of a CFTR IWF state. We utilize cysteine cross-linking to verify positions and orientations of residues within trans-membrane helices (TMHs) of the OWF conformation and to reconstruct a physiologically relevant pore structure. Comparison of pore profiles of the two conformations reveal a radius sufficient to permit passage of hydrated Cl-ions in the OWF but not the IWF model. To identify structural determinants that distinguish the two conformations and possible rearrangements of TMHs within them responsible for channel gating, we perform cross-linking by bifunctional reagents of multiple predicted pairs of cysteines in TMH 6 and 12 and 6 and 9. To determine whether the effects of cross-linking on gating observed are the result of switching of the channel from open to close state, we also treat the same residue pairs with monofunctional reagents in separate experiments. Both types of reagents prevent ion currents indicating that pore blockage is primarily responsible.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Modeling and Simulation
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Computational Theory and Mathematics