CFTR | Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator | ATP-Binding Cassette Sub-family C Member 7

ABC binding cassette superfamily of primary active transporters

Human Subfamilies:

  • ABCA - (ABC1) subfamily including 13 members (ABCA1 - ABCA13)
  • ABCB - Multidrig Resistance (MDR)/(TAP) subfamily including 11 members (ABCB1 - ABCB11)
  • ABCC - (CFTR)/Multidrug Resistance Protein (MRP) subfamily including 12 members (ABCC1 - ABCC12)
  • ABCD - Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) subfamily including 4 members (ABCD1 - ABCD4)
  • ABCE - Oligoadenylate Binding  Protein (OABP) subfamily including 1 member (ABCE1)
  • ABCF - Nonmembrane ABC Protein (GCN20) subfamily including 3 members (ABCF1 - ABCF3)
  • ABCG - Half Transporters (WHITE) subfamily including 5 members (ABCG1, ABCG2, ABCG4, ABCG5, ABCG8)

ABC transporters often contain multiple subunits. The common feature of all ABC transporters is that they consist of two distinct domains: 

  • The TMD ( transmembrane domain), also known as membrane-spanning domain (MSD) or integral membrane (IM) domain, consists of alpha helices, embedded in the membrane bilayer. It recognizes a variety of substrates and undergoes conformational changes to transport the substrate across the membrane. The sequence and architecture of TMDs is variable, reflecting the chemical diversity of substrates that can be translocated. 
  • The NBD (nucleotide-binding domain) or ATP-binding cassette (ABC) domain (membrane-associated AAA ATPases), is located in the cytoplasm and has a highly conserved sequence. The ATPase subunits utilize the energy of ATP binding and hydrolysis to provide the energy needed for the translocation of substrates across membranes, either for uptake or for export.

CFTR Background Information


CFTR, also called Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator, is a ATP-gated, phosphorylation-regulated epithelial cell membrane chloride channel belonging to the ATP-binding cassette (ATP transporter) subfamily C. CFTR is involved in normal fluid transport across various epithelia. Mutations of the gene can cause cystic fibrosis.

Data Sheet:


Human Protein:
UniProt P13569

The protein consists of five domains. There are two transmembrane domains, each with six spans of alpha helices. These are each connected to a nucleotide binding domain (NBD) in the cytoplasm. The first NBD is connected to the second transmembrane domain by a regulatory "R" domain that is a unique feature of CFTR, not present in other ABC transporters. The ion channel only opens when its R-domain has been phosphorylated by PKA and ATP is bound at the NBDs. The carboxyl terminal of the protein is anchored to the cytoskeleton by a PDZ-interacting domain.

Respiratory airway: bronchial epithelium; female reproductive tract; pancreatic intercalated ducts in the exocrine tissue; epithelial cells in intralobular striated ducts, sublingual salivary glands, apical membranes of crypt cells throughout the small and large intestine, reabsorptive duct in eccrine sweat glands, the equatorial segment of the sperm head, nasal superficial epithelium. central cells on the sebaceous glands

Function/ Application:
Epithelial ion channel that plays an important role in the regulation of epithelial ion and water transport and fluid homeostasis: It mediates the transport of chloride ions across the cell membrane. In addition, CFTR effects several other conductances via the regulation of: epithelial Na channel (ENaC), calcium activated chloride channels (CaCC), volume regulated anion channel (VRAC), outwardly rectifying chloride channel (ORCC), renal outer medullary potassium channel (ROMK2),. CFTR furthermore regulates TRPV4. The activities of CFTR and the chloride-bicarbonate exchangers SLC26A3 (DRA) and SLC26A6 (PAT1) are mutually enhanced by a physical association between the regulatory (R) domain of CFTR and the STAS domain of the SCL26 transporters, an effect facilitated by PKA-mediated phosphorylation of the R domain of CFTR

Multiple kinases can activate the CFTR chloride channel but only protein kinase A-dependent activation of CFTR has been described in detail. First the R domain is phosphorylated by cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA). This allows binding of ATP to nucleotide binding domain 1. When ATP is hydrolyzed by NBD1, the channel opens and anions can flow, according to the electrochemical gradient, through the pore formed by the transmembrane domains. When the R domain is fully phosphorylated, the second nucleotide-binding domain can bind ATP. This event stabilizes the open state of the chloride channel and results in longer openings. When in a next step ATP is hydrolyzed at NBD2 and ADP and Pi are released from both NBDs, the channel will close again

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is caused by mutations of CFTR. Cystic Fibrosis is a common generalized disorder of the exocrine glands which impairs clearance of secretions in a variety of organs. It is characterized by the triad of chronic bronchopulmonary disease (with recurrent respiratory infections), pancreatic insufficiency (which leads to malabsorption and growth retardation) and elevated sweat electrolytes. It is the most common genetic disease in Caucasians, with a prevalence of about 1 in 2'000 live births. Inheritance is autosomal recessive. Congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD) is caused by mutations of CFTR. It causes sterility in men and could represent an incomplete form of cystic fibrosis, as the majority of men suffering from cystic fibrosis lack the vas deferens.

Monomer; does not require oligomerization for channel activity. Interacts with SLC26A3, SLC26A6, SLC26A8, SLC4A7, SLC9A3R1, SHANK2, MYO5B, MYO6, GOPC, RAB11A, ANO1, AHCYL1, CSE1L, GORASP2, MRP4 (Multidrug resistance-associated protein 4)

forskolin, cAMP, Glibenclamide, GlyH 101, Fluoride

Patch Clamp: whole cell, room temperature

Reviews and Links

Data and Applications

CFTR - Regulation


icon pl   Patchliner data and applications:

The Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) is activated by forskolin. The upper graph shows the timecourse of currents recorded at +95 mV. The bar above the data indicates the time of compound application. Arrows indicate data from which time points were averaged in the lower figure (n = 3).

You can download the full report here.



Application Notes


2017 - Activation of CFTR channels in absence of internal fluoride using a highly parallel automated patch clamp system

icon sp96   SyncroPatch 384PE  (a predecessor model of the SyncroPatch 384) poster, BPS Meeting 2017  logo pdf   (1.5 MB)


2021 - The rescue of F508del-CFTR by elexacaftor/tezacaftor/ivacaftor (Trikafta) in human airway epithelial cells is underestimated due to the presence of ivacaftor

icon pl   Patchliner Publication in European Respiratory Journal (2021)

Becq F., Mirval S., Carrez T., Lévêque M., Billet A., Coraux C., Sage E., Cantereau A.

2021 - Cell engineering method using fluorogenic oligonucleotide signaling probes and flow cytometry

icon pl  Patchliner publication in Biotechnology Letters (2021)

Shekdar K., Langer J., Venkatachalan S., Schmid L., Anobile J., Shah P., Lancaster A., Babich O., Dedova O., Sawchuck D.

2020 - Targeting different binding sites in the CFTR structures allows to synergistically potentiate channel activity

icon pl  Patchliner publication in European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (2020)

Froux L., Elbahnsi A., Boucherle B., Billet A., Baatallah N., Hoffmann B., Alliot J., Zelli R., Zeinyeh W., Haudecoeur R., Chevalier B., Fortuné A., Mirval S., Simard C., Lehn P., Mornon J-P., Hinzpeter A., Becq F., Callebaut I., Décout J-L.

2017 - Development of Automated Patch Clamp Technique to Investigate CFTR Chloride Channel Function

icon pl  Patchliner publication in Frontiers in Pharmacology (2017)

Billet A.,Froux L., Hanrahan J.W., Becq F.

2017 - Buserelin alleviates chloride transport defect in human cystic fibrosis nasal epithelial cells

icon pap  Port-a-Patch publication in PLoS ONE (2017)

Calvez M.L., Benz N., Huguet F., Saint-Pierre A., Rouillé E., Coraux C., Férec C., Kerbiriou M., Trouvé P.

2014 - Improvement of Chloride Transport Defect by Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) in Cystic Fibrosis Epithelial Cells

icon pap  Port-a-Patch publication in PLoS One (2014)

Benz N., Le Hir S., Norez C., Kerbiriou M., Calvez M.-L., Becq F., Trouvé P. , Férec C.



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