The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene encodes a chloride channel protein that belongs to the superfamily of ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporters. Phosphorylation by protein kinase A in the presence of ATP activates the CFTR-mediated chloride conductance of the apical membranes. We have identified a novel hydrophilic CFTR binding protein, CAP70, which is also concentrated on the apical surfaces. CAP70 consists of four PDZ domains, three of which are capable of binding to the CFTR C terminus. Linking at least two CFTR molecules via cytoplasmic C-terminal binding by either multivalent CAP70 or a bivalent monoclonal antibody potentiates the CFTR chloride channel activity. Thus, the CFTR channel can be switched to a more active conducting state via a modification of intermolecular CFTR-CFTR contact that is enhanced by an accessory protein.
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