Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a lethal autosomal recessive inherited disease caused by the loss or dysfunction of the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) Cl- channel activity resulting from mutations. Clinically, chronic lung disease is the main cause of morbidity and mortality for CF patients. Among the 1900+ disease- causing mutations, c.1521_1523delCTT (F508del) is the most common mutation and associates with a severe form of CF disease. The ideal therapy for CF associated with F508del requires an increase in the quantity of protein at the cell surface, to potentiate the impaired channel gating properties and to improve protein stability. This notion was supported by promising results from clinical trials on CF patients with F508del, which demonstrated that a combinational approach using VX-809 (a CFTR corrector) and ivacaftor (a CFTR potentiator) led to significant improvements in the lung function of the study subjects. In this proposal, we plan to study a previously unrecognized inhibitory protein complex containing the rescued F508del-CFTR, Na+/H+ exchanger regulator factor-2 (NHERF2) and type-2 lysophosphatidic acid receptor (LPA2), and to pharmacologically disrupt this complex to increase F508del-CFTR channel function. The unifying hypothesis to be tested is that (i) the rescued F508del-CFTR, like wild type CFTR, forms an inhibitory complex with NHERF2 and LPA2 at the plasma membrane;(ii) disruption of this complex by specifically disrupting the NHERF2-LPA2 interaction will potentiate the channel function of F508del-CFTR;(iii) because the molecular mechanism underlying the disruption of NHERF2-LPA2 interaction is independent of that underlying the effect of VX-809 or VX-770, the NHERF2-LPA2 inhibitors can have additive or synergistic effects with VX-809 and VX-770 on augmentation of F508del-CFTR channel function. The proposed study will not only unveil a previously unrecognized protein complex that inhibits F508del-CFTR channel function, but will also provide a novel approach to augmenting F508del-CFTR channel function by abrogating this inhibitory signaling. Because, in addition to F508del, a variety of other CFTR mutations can also form complexes with NHERF2 and LPA2, the approach we propose could have a broad spectrum potentiating effect on CFTR mutations. Therefore, our study will expand our knowledge of the CFTR interactome and help us better understand the pathobiology of F508del-CFTR at the cell surface. Furthermore, our disruptor approach may open up a new avenue for developing drugs to treat CF associated with a variety of mutations.

Public Health Relevance

We propose to study an inhibitory protein complex containing the rescued F508del-CFTR. We will also explore the therapeutic manipulation of this complex to increase F508del-CFTR channel function. The study will expand our knowledge of the CFTR interactome and help us better understand the pathobiology of F508del- CFTR at the cell surface, and might pave the way to novel cystic fibrosis therapies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Lung Cellular, Molecular, and Immunobiology Study Section (LCMI)
Program Officer
Smith, Robert A
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Kong, Shanshan; Zhang, Yanhui H; Zhang, Weiqiang (2018) Regulation of Intestinal Epithelial Cells Properties and Functions by Amino Acids. Biomed Res Int 2018:2819154
Zhang, Weiqiang; Zhang, Zhihong; Zhang, Yanhui et al. (2017) CFTR-NHERF2-LPA? Complex in the Airway and Gut Epithelia. Int J Mol Sci 18:
Arora, Kavisha; Yarlagadda, Sunitha; Zhang, Weiqiang et al. (2016) Personalized medicine in cystic fibrosis: genistein supplementation as a treatment option for patients with a rare S1045Y-CFTR mutation. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 311:L364-74
Zhang, W; Zhang, X; Zhang, Y H et al. (2016) Lumacaftor/ivacaftor combination for cystic fibrosis patients homozygous for Phe508del-CFTR. Drugs Today (Barc) 52:229-37
Zhang, Xiaoying; Hothi, Jaspal S; Zhang, Yanhui H et al. (2016) c.3623G?>?A mutation encodes a CFTR protein with impaired channel function. Respir Res 17:8
Sinha, Chandrima; Zhang, Weiqiang; Moon, Chang Suk et al. (2015) Capturing the Direct Binding of CFTR Correctors to CFTR by Using Click Chemistry. Chembiochem 16:2017-22
Moon, Changsuk; Zhang, Weiqiang; Ren, Aixia et al. (2015) Compartmentalized accumulation of cAMP near complexes of multidrug resistance protein 4 (MRP4) and cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) contributes to drug-induced diarrhea. J Biol Chem 290:11246-57
Moon, Changsuk; Zhang, Weiqiang; Sundaram, Nambirajan et al. (2015) Drug-induced secretory diarrhea: A role for CFTR. Pharmacol Res 102:107-112
Ballinger, Megan N; Newstead, Michael W; Zeng, Xianying et al. (2015) IRAK-M promotes alternative macrophage activation and fibroproliferation in bleomycin-induced lung injury. J Immunol 194:1894-904
Arora, Kavisha; Sinha, Chandrima; Zhang, Weiqiang et al. (2015) Altered cGMP dynamics at the plasma membrane contribute to diarrhea in ulcerative colitis. Am J Pathol 185:2790-804