Carbon monoxide-releasing molecules inhibit the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator Cl- channel

Mayuree Rodrat, Walailak Jantarajit, Demi Ng , Bartholomew S J Harvey, Jia Liu, William Wilkinson, Narattaphol Charoenphandhu, David N Sheppard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The gasotransmitter carbon monoxide (CO) regulates fluid and electrolyte movements across epithelial tissues. However, its action on anion channels is incompletely understood. Here, we investigate the direct action of CO on the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) by applying CO-releasing molecules (CORMs) to the intracellular side of excised inside-out membrane patches from cells heterologously expressing wild-type human CFTR. Addition of increasing concentrations of tricarbonyldichlororuthenium (II) dimer (CORM-2) (1 – 300 μM) inhibited CFTR channel activity, whereas the control RuCl3 (100 μM) was without effect. CORM-2 predominantly inhibited CFTR by decreasing the frequency of channel openings and hence, open probability (Po). But, it also reduced current flow through open channels with very fast kinetics, particularly at elevated concentrations. By contrast, the chemically distinct CO-releasing molecule CORM-3 inhibited CFTR by decreasing Po without altering current flow through open channels. Neither depolarizing the membrane voltage nor raising the ATP concentration on the intracellular side of the membrane affected CFTR inhibition by CORM-2. Interestingly, CFTR inhibition by CORM-2, but not by CFTRinh-172, was prevented by prior enhancement of channel activity by the clinically-approved CFTR potentiator ivacaftor. Similarly, when added after CORM-2, ivacaftor completely relieved CFTR inhibition. In conclusion, CORM-2 has complex effects on wild-type human CFTR consistent with allosteric inhibition and open-channel blockade. Inhibition of CFTR by CO-releasing molecules suggests that CO regulates CFTR activity and that the gasotransmitter has tissuespecific effects on epithelial ion transport. The action of ivacaftor on CFTR Cl- channels inhibited by CO potentially expands the drug’s clinical utility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L997-L1009
JournalAJP - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • CFTR chloride ion channel
  • channel inhibition
  • carbon monoxide-releasing
  • molecule 2 (CORM-2)
  • CFTR potentiation
  • ivacaftor (VX-770)


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