The proteome speciation of an immortalized cystic fibrosis cell line: New perspectives on the pathophysiology of the disease

Michele Puglia, Claudia Landi, Assunta Gagliardi, Loretta Breslin, Alessandro Armini, Jlenia Brunetti, Alessandro Pini, Laura Bianchi, Luca Bini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a recessively inherited disease caused by mutations in the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) gene. CFTR has a pivotal role in the onset of CF, and several proteins are involved in its homeostasis. To study CFTR interactors at protein species level, we used a functional proteomics approach combining 2D-DIGE, mass spectrometry and enrichment analysis. A human bronchial epithelial cell line with cystic fibrosis (CFBE41o-) and the control (16HBE14o-) were used for the comparison. 73 differentially abundant spots were identified and some validated by western-blot. Enrichment analysis highlighted molecular pathways in which ezrin, HSP70, endoplasmin and lamin A/C, in addition to CFTR, were considered central hubs in CFTR homeostasis. These proteins acquire different functions through post-translational modifications, emphasizing the importance of studying the CF proteome at protein species level. Moreover, serpin H1, prelamin A/C, protein-SET and cystatin-B were associated to CF, demonstrating the importance of heat shock response, cross-talk between the cytoskeleton and signal transduction, chronic inflammation and alteration of CFTR gating in the pathophysiology of the disease. These results open new perspectives for the understanding of the proteostasis network, characteristic of CF pathology, and could provide a springboard for new therapeutic strategies. Biological significance Homeostasis of CFTR is a dynamic process managed by multiple proteostatic pathways. The used gel-based proteomic approach and enrichment analysis pointed out protein species variations among Human Bronchial (16HBE14o-) and Cystic Fibrosis Bronchial Epithelial cell lines (CFBE41o-) and specific molecular mechanisms involved in CF. In particular, we have highlighted HSP70 (HSP7C), HSP90 (endoplasmin), ERM proteins (ezrin), and lamin-A/C as central hubs of the functional analysis. Moreover, for the first time we consider serpin H1, lamin A/C, protein-SET and cystatin-B important player in CF, affecting acute exacerbation, cytoskeleton reorganization, CFTR gating and chronic inflammation in CF. Due to the presence of different spots corresponding to the same protein, we focalize our attention on the idea that a “protein species discourse” is mandatory to well-define functional roles of proteins. Our approach has permitted to pay attention to the molecular mechanisms which regulate pathways directly or indirectly involved with CFTR defects: heat shock response, cross-talk between cytoskeleton and signal transduction, chronic inflammation and alteration of CFTR gating. Our data could open new perspectives into the understanding of CF, identifying potential targets for drug treatments in order to alleviate Δ508CFTR membrane instability and consequently increase life expectancy for CF patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Proteomics
Pages (from-to)28-42
Publication statusPublished - 2018



  • Acute exacerbation
  • CFTR
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Enrichment analysis
  • Laminopathies
  • Protein species
  • Proteomics

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