Membrane trafficking of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is supposed to be an important mechanism controlled by the intracellular messenger cAMP. This has been shown with fluorescence techniques, electron microscopy and membrane capacitance measurements. In order to visualize protein insertion we applied atomic force microscopy (AFM) to inside-out oriented plasma membrane patches of CFTR-expressing Xenopus laevis oocytes before and after cAMP-stimulation. In a first step, oocytes injected with CFTR-cRNA were voltage-clamped, verifying successful CFTR expression. Water-injected oocytes served as controls. Then, plasma membrane patches were excised, placed (inside out) on glass and scanned by AFM. Before cAMP-stimulation plasma membranes of both water-injected and CFTR-expressing oocytes contained about 200 proteins per μm2. Molecular protein masses were estimated from molecular volumes measured by AFM. Before cAMP-stimulation, protein distribution showed a peak value of 11 nm protein height corresponding to 475 kDa. During cAMP-stimulation with 1 mm isobutylmethylxanthine (IBMX) plasma membrane protein density increased in water-injected oocytes to 700 proteins per μm2 while the peak value shifted to 7 nm protein height corresponding to 95 kDa. In contrast, CFTR-expressing oocytes showed after cAMP-stimulation about 400 proteins per μm2 while protein distribution exhibited two peak values, one peak at 10 nm protein height corresponding to 275 kDa and another one at 14 nm corresponding to 750 kDa. They could represent heteromeric protein clusters associated with CFTR. In conclusion, we visualized plasma membrane protein insertion upon cAMP-stimulation and quantified protein distribution with AFM at molecular level. We propose that CFTR causes clustering of plasma membrane proteins.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 19, 2014
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