Understanding how cystic fibrosis mutations disrupt CFTR function: from single molecules to animal models

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2014 Jul;52:47-57. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2014.04.001. Epub 2014 Apr 13.


Defective epithelial ion transport is the hallmark of the life-limiting genetic disease cystic fibrosis (CF). This abnormality is caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), the ATP-binding cassette transporter that functions as a ligand-gated anion channel. Since the identification of the CFTR gene, almost 2000 disease-causing mutations associated with a spectrum of clinical phenotypes have been reported, but the majority remain poorly characterised. Studies of a small number of mutations including the most common, F508del-CFTR, have identified six general mechanisms of CFTR dysfunction. Here, we review selectively progress to understand how CF mutations disrupt CFTR processing, stability and function. We explore CFTR structure and function to explain the molecular mechanisms of CFTR dysfunction and highlight new knowledge of disease pathophysiology emerging from large animal models of CF. Understanding CFTR dysfunction is crucial to the development of transformational therapies for CF patients.

Keywords: CFTR; CFTR knockout pigs; Chloride ion channel; Cystic fibrosis mutations; F508del-CFTR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans


  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator