Decreased mRNA and protein stability of W1282X limits response to modulator therapy

J Cyst Fibros. 2019 Sep;18(5):606-613. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2019.02.009. Epub 2019 Feb 23.


Background: Cell-based studies have shown that W1282X generates a truncated protein that can be functionally augmented by modulators. However, modulator treatment of primary cells from individuals who carry two copies of W1282X generates no functional CFTR. To understand the lack of response to modulators, we investigated the effect of W1282X on CFTR RNA transcript levels.

Methods: qRT-PCR and RNA-seq were performed on primary nasal epithelial (NE) cells of a previously studied individual who is homozygous for W1282X, her carrier parents and control individuals without nonsense variants in CFTR.

Results: CFTR RNA bearing W1282X in NE cells shows a steady-state level of 4.2 ± 0.9% of wild-type (WT) CFTR RNA in the mother and 12.4 ± 1.3% in the father. NMDI14, an inhibitor of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD), restored W1282X mRNA to almost 50% of WT levels in the parental NE cells. RNA-seq of the NE cells homozygous for W1282X showed that CFTR transcript level was reduced to 1.7% of WT (p-value: 4.6e-3). Negligible truncated CFTR protein was generated by Flp-In 293 cells stably expressing the W1282X EMG even though CFTR transcript was well above levels observed in the parents and proband. Finally, we demonstrated that NMD inhibition improved the stability and response to correctors of W1282X-CFTR protein expressed in the Flp-In-293 cells.

Conclusion: These results show that W1282X can cause substantial degradation of CFTR mRNA that has to be addressed before efforts aimed at augmenting CFTR protein function can be effective.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / genetics*
  • Cystic Fibrosis* / drug therapy
  • Cystic Fibrosis* / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Modulators / pharmacology*
  • Mutation
  • Nasal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Protein Stability / drug effects
  • RNA, Messenger* / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger* / metabolism


  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Membrane Transport Modulators
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator