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FASEB J. 1992 Jul;6(10):2775-82.

Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator and the etiology and pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis.

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Center for Medical Genetics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disorder causing pancreatic, pulmonary, and sinus disease in children and young adults. Abnormal viscosity of mucous secretions is a hallmark of the disease, and is believed to be the result of altered electrolyte transport across epithelial cell membranes. The monogenic etiology of this disease has been apparent for more than 40 years, but the defective gene has only recently been identified. This was made possible because of a revolution in genetic technology, called positional cloning, which can pinpoint disease genes without previous knowledge of the abnormal protein product. The protein encoded by the gene defective in CF has been termed the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) because of its postulated role in electrolyte transport. Studies investigating the normal function of CFTR and how mutations affect that function, thereby causing CF, have required the combined skills of clinicians, geneticists, molecular biologists, and physiologists. From this collaborative effort a greater understanding of the pathogenesis of this disorder is now emerging. It may soon be possible to introduce novel therapies derived from this new knowledge that will be aimed directly at the basic defect. An ever-increasing number of genes of unknown function will be identified by continuing advances in molecular genetic technology and the advent of the genome sequencing project. The experience in cystic fibrosis research may prove to be a paradigm for investigation of the function of genes isolated by positional cloning methods.

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