Importance of the Extracellular Loop 4 in the Human Serotonin Transporter for Inhibitor Binding and Substrate Translocation

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

The serotonin transporter (SERT) terminates serotonergic neurotransmission by performing reuptake of released serotonin, and SERT is the primary target for antidepressants. SERT mediates the reuptake of serotonin through an alternating access mechanism, implying that a central substrate site is connected to both sides of the membrane by permeation pathways, of which only one is accessible at a time. The coordinated conformational changes in SERT associated with substrate translocation are not fully understood. Here, we have identified a Leu to Glu mutation at position 406 (L406E) in the extracellular loop 4 (EL4) of human SERT, which induced a remarkable gain-of-potency (up to >40-fold) for a range of SERT inhibitors. The effects were highly specific for L406E relative to six other mutations in the same position, including the closely related L406D mutation, showing that the effects induced by L406E are not simply charge-related effects. Leu(406) is located >10 Å from the central inhibitor binding site indicating that the mutation affects inhibitor binding in an indirect manner. We found that L406E decreased accessibility to a residue in the cytoplasmic pathway. The shift in equilibrium to favor a more outward-facing conformation of SERT can explain the reduced turnover rate and increased association rate of inhibitor binding we found for L406E. Together, our findings show that EL4 allosterically can modulate inhibitor binding within the central binding site, and substantiates that EL4 has an important role in controlling the conformational equilibrium of human SERT.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number23
Pages (from-to)14582-94
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2015

ID: 138767829