Cystic fibrosis, one of the major human inherited diseases, is caused by defects in the CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator), a cell-membrane protein. CFTR acts as a chloride channel which can be opened by ATP. Low-resolution structural studies of purified recombinant human CFTR are described in the present paper. Localization of the C-terminal decahistidine tag in CFTR was achieved by Ni2+-nitriloacetate nanogold labelling, followed by electron microscopy and single-particle analysis. The presence of the gold label appears to improve the single-particle-alignment procedure. Projection structures of CFTR from two-dimensional crystals analysed by electron crystallography displayed two alternative conformational states in the presence of nucleotide and nanogold, but only one form of the protein was observed in the quiescent (nucleotide-free) state.

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