Reversible silencing of CFTR chloride channels by glutathionylation

Academic Article


  • The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is a phosphorylation- and ATP-dependent chloride channel that modulates salt and water transport across lung and gut epithelia. The relationship between CFTR and oxidized forms of glutathione is of potential interest because reactive glutathione species are produced in inflamed epithelia where they may be modulators or substrates of CFTR. Here we show that CFTR channel activity in excised membrane patches is markedly inhibited by several oxidized forms of glutathione (i.e., GSSG, GSNO, and glutathione treated with diamide, a strong thiol oxidizer). Three lines of evidence indicate that the likely mechanism for this inhibitory effect is glutathionylation of a CFTR cysteine (i.e., formation of a mixed disulfide with glutathione): (a) channels could be protected from inhibition by pretreating the patch with NEM (a thiol alkylating agent) or by lowering the bath pH; (b) inhibited channels could be rescued by reducing agents (e.g., DTT) or by purified glutaredoxins (Grxs; thiol disulfide oxidoreductases) including a mutant Grx that specifically reduces mixed disulfides between glutathione and cysteines within proteins; and (c) reversible glutathionylation of CFTR polypeptides in microsomes could be detected biochemically under the same conditions. At the single channel level, the primary effect of reactive glutathione species was to markedly inhibit the opening rates of individual CFTR channels. CFTR channel inhibition was not obviously dependent on phosphorylation state but was markedly slowed when channels were first "locked open" by a poorly hydrolyzable ATP analogue (AMP-PNP). Consistent with the latter finding, we show that the major site of inhibition is cys-1344, a poorly conserved cysteine that lies proximal to the signature sequence in the second nucleotide binding domain (NBD2) of human CFTR. This region is predicted to participate in ATP-dependent channel opening and to be occluded in the nucleotide-bound state of the channel based on structural comparisons to related ATP binding cassette transporters. Our results demonstrate that human CFTR channels are reversibly inhibited by reactive glutathione species, and support an important role of the region proximal to the NBD2 signature sequence in ATP-dependent channel opening.
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    Author List

  • Wang W; Oliva C; Li GE; Holmgren A; Lillig CH; Kirk KL
  • Start Page

  • 127
  • End Page

  • 141
  • Volume

  • 125
  • Issue

  • 2