Mechanical Properties of Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells Expressing Wt- and Mutant CFTR

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Apr 21;21(8):2916. doi: 10.3390/ijms21082916.


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is caused by mutations in the gene encoding the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). A single recessive mutation, the deletion of phenylalanine 508 (F508del), causes severe CF and resides on 70% of mutant chromosomes. Disorganization of the actin cytoskeleton has been previously reported in relation to the CF phenotype. In this work, we aimed to understand this alteration by means of Atomic Force Microscopy and Force Feedback Microscopy investigation of mechanical properties of cystic fibrosis bronchial epithelial (CFBE) cells stably transduced with either wild type (wt-) or F508del-CFTR. We show here that the expression of mutant CFTR causes a decrease in the cell's apparent Young modulus as compared to the expression of the wt protein.

Keywords: AFM; CFTR; Young modulus.

MeSH terms

  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / genetics*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Mechanical Phenomena*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Mutation*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / pathology


  • CFTR protein, human
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator