Volume 15 (2018) Pages 33-44
Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is an anion channel that belongs to the ATP binding cassette protein superfamily. Deletion of phenylalanine at position 508 (ΔF508) is the most common CF-associated mutation and is present in nearly 90% of CF patients. Currently, atomistic level studies are insufficient for understanding the mechanism by which the deletion of a single amino acid causes greatly reduced folding as well as trafficking and gating defects. To clarify this mechanism, we first constructed an atomic model of the inward-facing ΔF508-CFTR and performed all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the protein in a membrane environment. All of the computational methodologies used are based on those developed in our previous study for wild-type CFTR. Two important findings were obtained. First, consistent with several previous computational results, the deletion of F508 causes a disruption of a hydrophobic cluster located at the interface between the nucleotide binding domain 1 (NBD1) and intracellular loop 4 (ICL4). This exerts unfavorable influences on the correlated motion between ICLs and transmembrane domains (TMDs), likely resulting in gating defects. Second, the F508 deletion affected the NBD1–NBD2 interface via allosteric communication originating from the correlated motion between NBDs and ICLs. As a result, several unusual inter-residue interactions are caused at the NBD1–NBD2 interface. In other words, their correct dimerization is impaired. This study provided insight into the atomic-level details of structural and dynamics changes caused by the ΔF508 mutation and thus provides good insight for drug design.