Vx-770 potentiates CFTR function by promoting decoupling between the gating cycle and ATP hydrolysis cycle

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Mar 12;110(11):4404-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1215982110. Epub 2013 Feb 25.


Vx-770 (Ivacaftor), a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug for clinical application to patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), shifts the paradigm from conventional symptomatic treatments to therapeutics directly tackling the root of the disease: functional defects of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) chloride channel caused by pathogenic mutations. The underlying mechanism for the action of Vx-770 remains elusive partly because this compound not only increases the activity of wild-type (WT) channels whose gating is primarily controlled by ATP binding/hydrolysis, but also improves the function of G551D-CFTR, a disease-associated mutation that abolishes CFTR's responsiveness to ATP. Here we provide a unified theory to account for this dual effect of Vx-770. We found that Vx-770 enhances spontaneous, ATP-independent activity of WT-CFTR to a similar magnitude as its effects on G551D channels, a result essentially explaining Vx-770's effect on G551D-CFTR. Furthermore, Vx-770 increases the open time of WT-CFTR in an [ATP]-dependent manner. This distinct kinetic effect is accountable with a newly proposed CFTR gating model depicting an [ATP]-dependent "reentry" mechanism that allows CFTR shuffling among different open states by undergoing multiple rounds of ATP hydrolysis. We further examined the effect of Vx-770 on R352C-CFTR, a unique mutant that allows direct observation of hydrolysis-triggered gating events. Our data corroborate that Vx-770 increases the open time of WT-CFTR by stabilizing a posthydrolytic open state and thereby fosters decoupling between the gating cycle and ATP hydrolysis cycle. The current study also suggests that this unique mechanism of drug action can be further exploited to develop strategies that enhance the function of CFTR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / genetics
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Aminophenols / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis / drug effects
  • Ion Channel Gating / drug effects*
  • Ion Channel Gating / genetics
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Quinolones / pharmacology*


  • Aminophenols
  • CFTR protein, human
  • Quinolones
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator
  • ivacaftor
  • Adenosine Triphosphate