Transmembrane domain 6 of the human serotonin transporter contributes to an aqueously accessible binding pocket for serotonin and the psychostimulant 3,4-methylene dioxymethamphetamine.

Field JR, Henry LK, Blakely RD
J Biol Chem. 2010 285 (15): 11270-80

PMID: 20159976 · PMCID: PMC2857005 · DOI:10.1074/jbc.M109.093658

The plasma membrane serotonin (5-HT) transporter (SERT, SLC6A4) clears 5-HT after release at nerve termini and is targeted by both antidepressant medications and psychostimulants (e.g. MDMA, cocaine). Homology modeling of human SERT (hSERT), based on high resolution structures of the microbial SLC6 family member LeuT(Aa), along with biochemical studies of wild type and mutant transporters, predicts transmembrane (TM) domains 1, 3, 6, and 8 comprise the 5-HT-binding pocket. We utilized the substituted cysteine accessibility method along with surface and site-specific biotinylation to probe TM6 for aqueous accessibility and differential interactions with 5-HT and psychostimulants. Our results are consistent with TM6 being composed of an aqueous-accessible, alpha-helical extracellular domain (TM6a) that is separated by a central, unwound section from a cytoplasmically localized domain (TM6b) with limited aqueous accessibility. The substitution G338C appears to lock hSERT in an outward-facing conformation that, although accessible to aminoethylmethanethiosulfonate-biotin, 5-HT, and citalopram, is incapable of inward 5-HT transport. Transport of 5-HT by G338C can be partially restored by the TM1 mutation Y95F. With regard to methanethiosulfonate (MTS) inactivation of uptake, TM6a Cys mutants demonstrate Na(+)-dependent [2-(trimethylammonium)ethyl]-MTS sensitivity. Studies with the centrally located substitution S336C reveal features of a common binding pocket for 5-HT and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Interestingly, the substitution I333C reveals an MDMA-induced conformation not observed with 5-HT. In the context of prior studies on TM1, our findings document shared and unique features of TM6 contributing to hSERT aqueous accessibility, ligand recognition, and conformational dynamics.

MeSH Terms (15)

Biological Transport Cytoplasm Humans Kinetics Models, Biological Mutagenesis, Site-Directed Mutation N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine Protein Binding Protein Conformation Protein Structure, Tertiary Serotonin Serotonin Agents Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins Water

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