Cystic fibrosis (CF) is caused by mutations in the CFTR chloride channel. Deletion of phenylalanine 508 (F508del), the most frequent CF mutation, impairs CFTR trafficking and gating. F508del-CFTR mistrafficking may be corrected by acting directly on mutant CFTR itself or by modulating expression/activity of CFTR-interacting proteins, that may thus represent potential drug targets. To evaluate possible candidates for F508del-CFTR rescue, we screened a siRNA library targeting known CFTR interactors. Our analysis identified RNF5 as a protein whose inhibition promoted significant F508del-CFTR rescue and displayed an additive effect with the investigational drug VX-809. Significantly, RNF5 loss in F508del-CFTR transgenic animals ameliorated intestinal malabsorption and concomitantly led to an increase in CFTR activity in intestinal epithelial cells. In addition, we found that RNF5 is differentially expressed in human bronchial epithelia from CF vs. control patients. Our results identify RNF5 as a target for therapeutic modalities to antagonize mutant CFTR proteins.
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