The anion channel cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) is a unique ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter. CFTR plays a pivotal role in transepithelial ion transport as its dysfunction in the genetic disease cystic fibrosis (CF) dramatically demonstrates. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that CFTR first appeared in aquatic vertebrates fulfilling important roles in osmosensing and organ development. Here, we review selectively, knowledge of CFTR structure, function and pharmacology, gleaned from cross-species comparative studies of recombinant CFTR proteins, including CFTR chimeras. The data argue that subtle changes in CFTR structure can affect strongly channel function and the action of CF mutations.

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