Cell Physiology


The role of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) in lysosomal acidification has been difficult to determine. We demonstrate here that CFTR contributes more to the reacidification of lysosomes from an elevated pH than to baseline pH maintenance. Lysosomal alkalinization is increasingly recognized as a factor in diseases of accumulation, and we previously showed that cAMP reacidified alkalinized lysosomes in retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells. As the influx of anions to electrically balance proton accumulation may enhance lysosomal acidification, the contribution of the cAMP-activated anion channel CFTR to lysosomal reacidification was probed. The antagonist CFTRinh-172 had little effect on baseline levels of lysosomal pH in cultured human RPE cells but substantially reduced the reacidification of compromised lysosomes by cAMP. Likewise, CFTR activators had a bigger impact on cells whose lysosomes had been alkalinized. Knockdown of CFTR with small interfering RNA had a larger effect on alkalinized lysosomes than on baseline levels. Inhibition of CFTR in isolated lysosomes altered pH. While CFTR and Lamp1 were colocalized, treatment with cAMP did not increase targeting of CFTR to the lysosome. The inhibition of CFTR slowed lysosomal degradation of photoreceptor outer segments while activation of CFTR enhanced their clearance from compromised lysosomes. Activation of CFTR acidified RPE lysosomes from the ABCA4−/− mouse model of recessive Stargardt's disease, whose lysosomes are considerably alkalinized. In summary, CFTR contributes more to reducing lysosomal pH from alkalinized levels than to maintaining baseline pH. Treatment to activate CFTR may thus be of benefit in disorders of accumulation associated with lysosomal alkalinization.

  • chloride channel
  • macular degeneration
  • vacuolar H+-ATPase
  • lipofuscin
  • phagocytosis
  • autophagy
  • retinal pigmented epithelial cells
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