Terry Machen
Lab Personnel

go back

  JH Poulsen, Horst Fischer, Beate Illek, and Terry Machen (1994). Bicarbonate conductance and pH regulatory capability of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 91, 5340-5344.

      The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is an epithelial Cl- channel regulated by protein kinase A. The most common mutation in cystic fibrosis (CF), deletion of Phe-508 (delta F508-CFTR), reduces Cl- secretion, but the fatal consequences of CF have been difficult to rationalize solely in terms of this defect. The aim of this study was to determine the role of CFTR in HCO3- transport across cell membranes. HCO3- permeability was assessed from measurements of intracellular pH [pHi; from spectrofluorimetry of the pH-sensitive dye 2',7'-bis(2-carboxyethyl)-5-(and -6)carboxyfluorescein] and of channel activity (patch clamp; cell attached and isolated, inside-out patches) on NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and C127 mammary epithelial cells transfected with wild-type CFTR (WT-CFTR) or delta F508-CFTR, and also on mock-transfected cells. When WT-CFTR-transfected cells were acidified (pulsed with NH4Cl) and incubated in Na(+)-free (N-methyl-D-glucamine substitution) solutions (to block Na(+)-dependent pHi regulatory mechanisms), pHi remained acidic (pH approximately 6.5) until the cells were treated with 20 microM forskolin (increases cellular [cAMP]); pHi then increased toward (but not completely to) control level (pHi 7.2) at a rate of 0.055 pH unit/min. Forskolin had no effect on rate of pHi recovery in delta F508 and mock-transfected cells. This Na(+)-independent, forskolin-dependent pHi recovery was not observed in HCO3-/CO2-free medium. Forskolin-treated WT-CFTR-transfected (but not delta F508-CFTR or mock-transfected) cells in Cl(-)-containing, HCO3(-)-free solutions showed Cl- channels with a linear I/V relationship and a conductance of 10.4 +/- 0.5 pS in symmetrical 150 mM Cl-. When channels were incubated with different [Cl-] and [HCO3-] on the inside and outside, the Cl-/HCO3- permeability ratio (determined from reversal potentials of I/V curves) was 3.8 +/- 1.0 (mean +/- SEM; n = 9); the ratio of conductances was 3.9 +/- 0.5 (at 150 mM Cl- and 127 mM HCO3-. We conclude that in acidified cells the WT-CFTR functions as a base loader by allowing a cAMP-dependent influx of HCO3- through channels that conduct HCO3- about one-quarter as efficiently as it conducts Cl-. Under physiological conditions, the electrochemical gradients for both Cl- and HCO3- are directed outward, so CFTR likely contributes to the epithelial secretion of both ions.