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Biochemistry. 2008 Sep 23;47(38):10084-98. doi: 10.1021/bi8003928. Epub 2008 Aug 29.

The relative binding affinities of PDZ partners for CFTR: a biochemical basis for efficient endocytic recycling.

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Department of Biochemistry, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is an epithelial chloride channel mutated in patients with cystic fibrosis. Its expression and functional interactions in the apical membrane are regulated by several PDZ (PSD-95, discs large, zonula occludens-1) proteins, which mediate protein-protein interactions, typically by binding C-terminal recognition motifs. In particular, the CFTR-associated ligand (CAL) limits cell-surface levels of the most common disease-associated mutant DeltaF508-CFTR. CAL also mediates degradation of wild-type CFTR, targeting it to lysosomes following endocytosis. Nevertheless, wild-type CFTR survives numerous cycles of uptake and recycling. In doing so, how does it repeatedly avoid CAL-mediated degradation? One mechanism may involve competition between CAL and other PDZ proteins including Na (+)/H (+) exchanger-3 regulatory factors 1 and 2 (NHERF1 and NHERF2), which functionally stabilize cell-surface CFTR. Thus, to understand the biochemical basis of WT-CFTR persistence, we need to know the relative affinities of these partners. However, no quantitative binding data are available for CAL or the individual NHERF2 PDZ domains, and published estimates for the NHERF1 PDZ domains conflict. Here we demonstrate that the affinity of the CAL PDZ domain for the CFTR C-terminus is much weaker than those of NHERF1 and NHERF2 domains, enabling wild-type CFTR to avoid premature entrapment in the lysosomal pathway. At the same time, CAL's affinity is evidently sufficient to capture and degrade more rapidly cycling mutants, such as DeltaF508-CFTR. The relatively weak affinity of the CAL:CFTR interaction may provide a pharmacological window for stabilizing rescued DeltaF508-CFTR in patients with cystic fibrosis.

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