Hydrogen peroxide stimulation of CFTR reveals an Epac-mediated, soluble AC-dependent cAMP amplification pathway common to GPCR signalling

Br J Pharmacol. 2015 Jan;172(1):173-84. doi: 10.1111/bph.12934. Epub 2014 Dec 15.


Background and purpose: H2 O2 is widely understood to regulate intracellular signalling. In airway epithelia, H2 O2 stimulates anion secretion primarily by activating an autocrine PGE2 signalling pathway via EP4 and EP1 receptors to initiate cytic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR)-mediated Cl(-) secretion. This study investigated signalling downstream of the receptors activated by H2 O2 .

Experimental approach: Anion secretion by differentiated bronchial epithelial cells was measured in Ussing chambers during stimulation with H2 O2 , an EP4 receptor agonist or β2 -adrenoceptor agonist in the presence and absence of inhibitors of ACs and downstream effectors. Intracellular calcium ([Ca(2+) ]I ) changes were followed by microscopy using fura-2-loaded cells and PKA activation followed by FRET microscopy.

Key results: Transmembrane adenylyl cyclase (tmAC) and soluble AC (sAC) were both necessary for H2 O2 and EP4 receptor-mediated CFTR activation in bronchial epithelia. H2 O2 and EP4 receptor agonist stimulated tmAC to increase exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac) activity that drives PLC activation to raise [Ca(2+) ]i via Ca(2+) store release (and not entry). Increased [Ca(2+) ]i led to sAC activation and further increases in CFTR activity. Stimulation of sAC did not depend on changes in [HCO3 (-) ]. Ca(2+) -activated apical KCa 1.1 channels and cAMP-activated basolateral KV 7.1 channels contributed to H2 O2 -stimulated anion currents. A similar Epac-mediated pathway was seen following β2 -adrenoceptor or forskolin stimulation.

Conclusions and implications: H2 O2 initiated a complex signalling cascade that used direct stimulation of tmACs by Gαs followed by Epac-mediated Ca(2+) crosstalk to activate sAC. The Epac-mediated Ca(2+) signal constituted a positive feedback loop that amplified CFTR anion secretion following stimulation of tmAC by a variety of stimuli.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism*
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology*
  • Lung / cytology
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • Calcium