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J Gen Physiol. 2006 Oct;128(4):413-22. Epub 2006 Sep 11.

The two ATP binding sites of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) play distinct roles in gating kinetics and energetics.

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Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), a member of the ABC (ATP binding cassette) transporter family, is a chloride channel whose activity is controlled by protein kinase-dependent phosphorylation. Opening and closing (gating) of the phosphorylated CFTR is coupled to ATP binding and hydrolysis at CFTR's two nucleotide binding domains (NBD1 and NBD2). Recent studies present evidence that the open channel conformation reflects a head-to-tail dimerization of CFTR's two NBDs as seen in the NBDs of other ABC transporters (Vergani et al., 2005). Whether these two ATP binding sites play an equivalent role in the dynamics of NBD dimerization, and thus in gating CFTR channels, remains unsettled. Based on the crystal structures of NBDs, sequence alignment, and homology modeling, we have identified two critical aromatic amino acids (W401 in NBD1 and Y1219 in NBD2) that coordinate the adenine ring of the bound ATP. Conversion of the W401 residue to glycine (W401G) has little effect on the sensitivity of the opening rate to [ATP], but the same mutation at the Y1219 residue dramatically lowers the apparent affinity for ATP by >50-fold, suggesting distinct roles of these two ATP binding sites in channel opening. The W401G mutation, however, shortens the open time constant. Energetic analysis of our data suggests that the free energy of ATP binding at NBD1, but not at NBD2, contributes significantly to the energetics of the open state. This kinetic and energetic asymmetry of CFTR's two NBDs suggests an asymmetric motion of the NBDs during channel gating. Opening of the channel is initiated by ATP binding at the NBD2 site, whereas separation of the NBD dimer at the NBD1 site constitutes the rate-limiting step in channel closing.

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