Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

PloS One


Geisel School of Medicine


Background: Chloride (Cl) secretion by the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) located in the apical membrane of respiratory epithelial cells plays a critical role in maintenance of the airway surface liquid and mucociliary clearance of pathogens. Previously, we and others have shown that the serum and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase-1 (SGK1) increases wild type CFTR (wt-CFTR) mediated Cl transport in Xenopus oocytes by increasing the amount of wt-CFTR protein in the plasma membrane. However, the effect of SGK1 on the membrane abundance of wt-CFTR in airway epithelial cells has not been examined, and the mechanism whereby SGK1 increases membrane wt-CFTR has also not been examined. Thus, the goal of this study was to elucidate the mechanism whereby SGK1 regulates the membrane abundance of wt-CFTR in human airway epithelial cells.

Methods and Results: We report that elevated levels of SGK1, induced by dexamethasone, increase plasma membrane abundance of wt-CFTR. Reduction of SGK1 expression by siRNA (siSGK1) and inhibition of SGK1 activity by the SGK inhibitor GSK 650394 abrogated the ability of dexamethasone to increase plasma membrane wt-CFTR. Overexpression of a constitutively active SGK1 (SGK1-S422D) increased plasma membrane abundance of wt-CFTR. To understand the mechanism whereby SGK1 increased plasma membrane wt-CFTR, we examined the effects of siSGK1 and SGK1-S442D on the endocytic retrieval of wt-CFTR. While siSGK1 increased wt-CFTR endocytosis, SGK1-S442D inhibited CFTR endocytosis. Neither siSGK1 nor SGK1-S442D altered the recycling of endocytosed wt-CFTR back to the plasma membrane. By contrast, SGK1 increased the endocytosis of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

Conclusion: This study demonstrates for the first time that SGK1 selectively increases wt-CFTR in the plasma membrane of human airway epithelia cells by inhibiting its endocytic retrieval from the membrane.