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Neurotransmitter Receptors, Transporters, and Ion Channels

Neurotransmitters have two important advantages: since thousands of molecules are released, they amplify the signal, and since many different types of neurotransmitters are used, they can encode a variety of different types of signals. Once neurotransmitters have delivered their message, they need to be cleaned up, to get the neurons ready for the next signal. This is the job of neurotransmitter transporters. They are found in the membrane of the neuron or in associated cells. They transport the neurotransmitters out of the narrow synaptic cleft between the nerve cells, powered by the simultaneous transport of sodium and chloride ions.

The transporter shown here, from PDB entry 4m48 , transports the neurotransmitter dopamine. Since they are so centrally involved in nerve transmission, these transporters are the target of drugs that affect thought and mood. Drugs that block the action of the transporter will cause the neurotransmitter to remain in the synapse longer than normal. Antidepressant drugs such as the one shown here in yellow take advantage of this by blocking dopamine transporters. Drugs of abuse like cocaine also block the action of these transporters.

Bacterial aspartate transporter with aspartate white and red and sodium ions magenta. Neurotransmitter transporters have been difficult to study by x-ray crystallography, but structures have been obtained for several bacterial transporters with very similar function. These transporters import neurotransmitter-like nutrient molecules into the bacterial cell, powered by the co-transport of sodium ions. The one shown here, from PDB entry 2nwx , transports aspartate, and is an analogue of the glutamate transporter that is found in most of the excitatory synapses of your brain.

Topics for Further Discussion Try using one of the 3D viewers at the PDB to look at the specific interactions between transporters and the molecules that they transport, for instance, the aspartates bound in the transport site of PDB entry 2nwx. The function of the dopamine transporter is modulated by cholesterol--you can see how it binds in PDB entry 4m Together, these findings support that estrogen suppression is involved in SERT deficiency-induced obesity and glucose intolerance, and suggest approaches to restore 17beta-estradiol levels as a novel treatment option for SERT deficiency associated obesity and metabolic abnormalities.

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NOD2 could play a role in intestinal pathophysiology not only through its inherent innate immune role but also due to its interaction with other receptors as TLR2 and the modulation of the intestinal serotonergic system decreasing SERT activity and expression. Overall, these results demonstrate that an increase of SERT activity is sufficient to cause the apneas in Necdin-knockout pups. These data suggest that correlated expression of Slc6a4 and Htr4 likely involves coregulation of genes located on different chromosomes which modulate serotonergic activity in the gut.


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Data show that inhibitors of the serotonin reuptake transporter SERT were potent inhibitors of mouse breast tumor-initiating cells BTIC activity as determined by functional sphere-forming assays. Findings indicate that maternal serotonin transporter function impacts offspring placental serotonin levels, forebrain serotonin levels, and neurodevelopment.

Study investigated the effect of environmental enrichment on approach-avoidance, depression-like, and sensorimotor gating behaviours 5-HTT knock-out KO mice.

Neurotransmitter Receptors, Transporters, and Ion Channels Research Areas: R&D Systems

Environmental enrichment restores the abnormal innate anxiety but not the increased depression-like behaviour of 5-HTT KO mice. SERT mutant animals learned the auditory and visual tasks comparably to WT littermates, they failed to show behavioral gains under multisensory conditions. These results provide the first behavioral evidence of multisensory deficits in a genetic mouse model related to ASD and implicate the serotonin system in multisensory processing and in the multisensory changes seen in ASD.

SERT protects trophoblast cells against apoptotic cell death in caspase-3 independent pathway by terminating the 5-HT signaling.


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Variant Alaexpressing mice display GI defects that resemble those seen in mice lacking neuronal 5-HT. These defects included enteric nervous system hypoplasia, slow GI transit, diminished peristaltic reflex activity, and proliferation of crypt epithelial cells. These data suggest that a small number of neurons selectively express factor s required for 5-HT storage, and potentially for function of dSERT.

The findings provide, to the author's knowledge, the first empirical support for the assertion that the s-allele grants high undirected biological sensitivity to context in primates and suggest a mechanism through which the 5-HTTLPR s-allele is maintained in primate populations. Rhesus monkeys carrying the short rh5-HTTLPR allele have less optimal neonatal sensory scores than monkeys homozygous for the long allele.


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  8. An effect of social status is detected on 5HTT levels in the developing orbitofrontal cortex partly influenced by exposure to the social stress of subordination. Study reports evidence for selection at the SLC6A4 gene and epigenetic reorganization according to genotype, stress, and age. Grant Policy Manual. Grant General Conditions. Cooperative Agreement Conditions. Special Conditions. Federal Demonstration Partnership. Policy Office Website.

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