Structure-activity analysis of a CFTR channel potentiator: Distinct molecular parts underlie dual gating effects

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The cystic fibrosis (CF) transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is a member of the ATP-binding cassette transporter superfamily that functions as an epithelial chloride channel. Gating of the CFTR ion conduction pore involves a conserved irreversible cyclic mechanism driven by ATP binding and hydrolysis at two cytosolic nucleotide- binding domains (NBDs): formation of an intramolecular NBD dimer that occludes two ATP molecules opens the pore, whereas dimer disruption after ATP hydrolysis closes it. CFTR dysfunction resulting from inherited mutations causes CF. The most common CF mutation, deletion of phenylalanine 508 (ΔF508), impairs both protein folding and processing and channel gating. Development of ΔF508 CFTR correctors (to increase cell surface expression) and potentiators (to enhance open probability, Po) is therefore a key focus of CF research. The practical utility of 5-nitro-2-(3-phenylpropylamino)benzoate (NPPB), one of the most efficacious potentiators of ΔF508 CFTR identified to date, is limited by its pore-blocking side effect. NPPB-mediated stimulation of Po is unique in that it involves modulation of gating transition state stability. Although stabilization by NPPB of the transition state for pore opening enhances both the rate of channel opening and the very slow rate of nonhydrolytic closure, because of CFTR's cyclic gating mechanism, the net effect is Po stimulation. In addition, slowing of ATP hydrolysis by NPPB delays pore closure, further enhancing Po. Here we show that NPPB stimulates gating at a site outside the pore and that these individual actions of NPPB on CFTR are fully attributable to one or the other of its two complementary molecular parts, 3-nitrobenzoate (3NB) and 3-phenylpropylamine (3PP), both of which stimulate Po: the pore-blocking 3NB selectively stabilizes the transition state for opening, whereas the nonblocking 3PP selectively slows the ATP hydrolysis step. Understanding structure-activity relationships of NPPB might prove useful for designing potent, clinically relevant CFTR potentiators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-336
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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