Expression cloning of a cocaine-and antidepressant-sensitive human noradrenaline transporter

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Abstract

AT most synapses, chemical signalling is terminated by a rapid reaccumulation of neurotransmitter into presynaptic terminals1–5. Uptake systems for the biogenic amines are the initial site of action for therapeutic antidepressants and drugs such as cocaine and the amphetamines. We have isolated a complementary DNA clone encoding a human noradrenaline transporter. The cDNA sequence predicts a protein of 617 amino acids, with 12–13 highly hydrophobic regions compatible with membrane-spanning domains. Expression of the cDNA clone in transfected HeLa cells indicates that noradrenaline transport activity is sodium-dependent and sensitive to selective noradrenaline transport inhibitors. Trans-porter RNA is localized to the brainstem and the adrenal gland. The predicted protein sequence demonstrates significant amino-acid identity with the Na+/γ-aminobutyric acid transporter, thus identifying a new gene family for neurotransmitter transporter proteins. Analysis of its structure and function may lead to structure-based drug design for the treatment of human depression and could help determine whether transporter abnormalities underlie affective disorders.

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Pacholczyk, T., Blakely, R. & Amara, S. Expression cloning of a cocaine-and antidepressant-sensitive human noradrenaline transporter. Nature 350, 350–354 (1991) doi:10.1038/350350a0

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