The cystic fibrosis gene encodes a cyclic AMP-gated chloride channel (CFTR) that mediates electrolyte transport across the luminal surfaces of a variety of epithelial cells. The molecular mechanisms that modulate CFTR activity in epithelial tissues are poorly understood. Here we show that CFTR is regulated by an epithelially expressed syntaxin (syntaxin 1A), a membrane protein that also modulates neurosecretion and calcium-channel gating in brain. Syntaxin 1A physically interacts with CFTR chloride channels and regulates CFTR-mediated currents both in Xenopus oocytes and in epithelial cells that normally express these proteins. The physical and functional interactions between syntaxin 1A and CFTR are blocked by a syntaxin-binding protein of the Munc18 protein family (also called n-SecI; refs 12-14). Our results indicate that CFTR function in epithelial cells is regulated by an interplay between syntaxin and Munc18 isoforms.
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