Clinically approved CFTR modulators rescue Nrf2 dysfunction in cystic fibrosis airway epithelia

Dana C. Borcherding, Matthew E. Siefert, Songbai Lin, John Brewington, Hesham Sadek, John P. Clancy, Scott M. Plafker, Assem G. Ziady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a multiorgan progressive genetic disease caused by loss of functional cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) channel. Previously, we identified a significant dysfunction in CF cells and model mice of the transcription factor nuclear factor E2–related factor-2 (Nrf2), a major regulator of redox balance and inflammatory signaling. Here we report that the approved F508del CFTR correctors VX809 and VX661 recover diminished Nrf2 function and colocalization with CFTR in CF human primary bronchial epithelia by proximity ligation assay, immunoprecipitation, and immunofluorescence, concordant with CFTR correction. F508del CFTR correctors induced Nrf2 nuclear translocation, Nrf2-dependent luciferase activity, and transcriptional activation of target genes. Rescue of Nrf2 function by VX809/VX661 was dependent on significant correction of F508del and was blocked by inhibition of corrected channel function, or high-level shRNA knockdown of CFTR or F508del CFTR. Mechanistically, F508del CFTR modulation restored Nrf2 phosphorylation and its interaction with the coactivator CREB-binding protein (CBP). Our findings demonstrate that sufficient modulation of F508del CFTR function corrects Nrf2 dysfunction in CF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3448-3463
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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