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The cellular intricacies of cystic fibrosis
Date:9/19/2011

s were exposed to air, which prompted the cells to grow and behave as though they were still inside human lungs. Then the team studied proteolytic cleavage of ENaC, a process in which the ENaC protein is cut by enzymes called proteases at specific sites on the protein. This limited cleavage causes ENaC to become active. When the team analyzed the cells' behavior, they found that ENaC was more likely to have undergone cleavage in cells from CF tissue.

According to Dr. Gentzsch, these observations prompted two questions. First, what role does CFTR play in regulating ENaC cleavage? Second, why is ENaC cleavage not regulated in CF?

"CFTR binds to ENaC, so our initial thought was that close contact of ENaC to CFTR protects ENaC from being cleaved. But another possibility is that CFTR is responsible for suppressing ENaC cleavage and activation," said Dr. Gentzsch. In other words, the absence of a normally functioning CFTR protein may cause ENaC overactivity. Because there is more cleavage when the CFTR mutation is present, it implies that healthy CFTR prevents ENaC cleavage and activation, but defective CFTR does not.

Either way, Dr. Gentzsch feels that both CFTR and ENaC should be considered when developing therapies for CF. "Successful treatments should address both decreased CFTR function and increased salt absorption caused by ENaC overactivity."


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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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