Divergent CFTR orthologs respond differently to the channel inhibitors CFTRinh-172, glibenclamide, and GlyH-101

Maximilian Stahl, Klaus Stahl, Marie B. Brubacher, John N. Forrest Jr.


Comparison of diverse orthologs is a powerful tool to study the structure and function of channel proteins. We investigated the response of human, killifish, pig, and shark cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) to specific inhibitors of the channel: CFTRinh-172, glibenclamide, and GlyH-101. In three systems, including organ perfusion of the shark rectal gland, primary cultures of shark rectal gland tubules, and expression studies of each ortholog in cRNA microinjected Xenopus laevis oocytes, we observed fundamental differences in the sensitivity to inhibition by these channel blockers. In organ perfusion studies, shark CFTR was insensitive to inhibition by CFTRinh-172. This insensitivity was also seen in short-circuit current experiments with cultured rectal gland tubular epithelial cells (maximum inhibition 4 ± 1.3%). In oocyte expression studies, shark CFTR was again insensitive to CFTRinh-172 (maximum inhibition 10.3 ± 2.5% at 25 μM), pig CFTR was insensitive to glibenclamide (maximum inhibition 18.4 ± 4.4% at 250 μM), and all orthologs were sensitive to GlyH-101. The amino acid residues considered responsible by previous site-directed mutagenesis for binding of the three inhibitors are conserved in the four CFTR isoforms studied. These experiments demonstrate a profound difference in the sensitivity of different orthologs of CFTR proteins to inhibition by CFTR blockers that cannot be explained by mutagenesis of single amino acids. We believe that the potency of the inhibitors CFTRinh-172, glibenclamide, and GlyH-101 on the CFTR chloride channel protein is likely dictated by the local environment and the three-dimensional structure of additional residues that form the vestibules, the chloride pore, and regulatory regions of the channel.

  • shark rectal gland
  • Xenopus laevis oocytes
  • forskolin
  • isobutylmethylxanthine
  • two-electrode voltage clamp
  • cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator


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