Domain Interdependence in the Biosynthetic Assembly of CFTR

Liying Cui, Luba Aleksandrov, Xiu Bao Chang, Yue Xian Hou, Lihua He, Tamas Hegedus, Martina Gentzsch, Andrei Aleksandrov, William E. Balch, John R. Riordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


The dimerization of their two nucleotide binding domains (NBDs) in a so-called "nucleotide-sandwich" is the hallmark of ATP cassette binding (ABC) proteins and the basis of their catalytic activities. The major disease-causing mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR or ABCC7), deletion of Phe508 in NBD1, does not grossly alter the structure of that domain but prevents conformational maturation of the whole CFTR protein, possibly by disrupting the native interaction between NBD1 and NBD2. However, the role of inter-domain interactions in CFTR folding has been brought into question by a recent report that all CFTR domains fold independently. Here we show that in addition to domain folding, correct inter-domain assembly is essential to form a stable unit that satisfies endoplasmic reticulum (ER) quality control. N-terminal domains depend on their more C-terminal neighbors, most essentially the second membrane-spanning domain (MSD2) but significantly, not NBD2. Wild-type C-terminal truncation constructs, completely devoid of NBD2 are transported out of the ER and to the cell surface where they form characteristic CFTR chloride channels with low open probability. The ΔNBD2 wild-type protein matures and has similar stability as its full-length counterpart. Therefore, the catalytically crucial inter- NBD associations are not required to satisfy ER quality control mechanisms. The ΔF508 mutation arrests the maturation of ΔNBD2 just as it does full-length CFTR, indicating that ΔF508 perturbs other portions of the molecule in addition to NBD2. We find that the mutation prevents formation of a compact MSD1, reflected in its susceptibility to protease digestion. This perturbation of MSD1 may in turn prevent its normal integration with MSD2. The dispensability of NBD2 in the folding of more N-terminal domains stands in contrast to the known hypersensitivity to proteolysis of NBD2 in the ΔF508 protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)981-994
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 26 2007


  • ABC protein
  • CFTR
  • protein folding
  • quality control
  • ΔF508

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology


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