Functional interaction of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator with members of the SLC26 family of anion transporters (SLC26A8 and SLC26A9): physiological and pathophysiological relevance

El Khouri, Elma and Touré, Aminata


The solute carrier 26 (SLC26) proteins are transmembrane proteins located at the plasma membrane of the cells and transporting a variety of monovalent and divalent anions, including chloride, bicarbonate, sulfate and oxalate. In humans, 11 members have been identified (SLC26A1 to SLC26A11) and although part of them display a very restricted tissue expression pattern, altogether they are widely expressed in the epithelial cells of the body where they contribute to the composition and the pH regulation of the secreted fluids. Importantly, mutations in SLC26A2, A3, A4, and A5 have been associated with distinct human genetic recessive disorders (i.e. diastrophic dysplasia, congenital chloride diarrhea, Pendred syndrome and deafness, respectively), demonstrating their essential and non-redundant functions in many tissues. During the last decade, physical and functional interactions of SLC26 members with the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) have been highly documented, leading to the model of a crosstalk based on the binding of the SLC26 STAS domain to the CFTR regulatory domain. In this review, we will focus on the functional interaction of SLC26A8 and SLC26A9 with the CFTR channel. In particular we will highlight the newly published studies indicating that mutations in SLC26A8 and SLC26A9 proteins are associated with a deregulation of the CFTR anion transport activity in the pathophysiological context of the sperm and the pulmonary cells. These studies confirm the physiological relevance of SLC26 and CFTR cross-regulation, opening new gates for the treatment of cystic fibrosis.