The serotonin transporter (SERT) regulates neurotransmission by the biogenic monoamine neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine) in the central nervous system, and drugs inhibiting SERT are widely used for the treatment of a variety of central nervous system diseases. The conformational dynamics of SERT transport function and inhibition is currently poorly understood. We used voltage-clamp fluorometry to study conformational changes in human SERT (hSERT) during 5-HT transport and inhibitor binding. Cys residues were introduced at 12 positions in hSERT to enable covalent attachment of a rhodamine-based fluorophore. Transport-associated changes in fluorescence from fluorophore-labeled hSERT expressed in Xenopus oocytes could be robustly detected at four positions in hSERT: endogenous Cys109 in the top of transmembrane domain (TM) 1b, Cys substituted for Thr323 in the top of TM6, Ala419 in the interface between TM8 and extracellular loop (EL) 4, and Leu481 in EL5. The reporter positions were used for time-resolved measurement of conformational changes during 5-HT transport and binding of cocaine and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors fluoxetine and escitalopram. At all reporter positions, fluorescence changes observed upon substrate application were distinctly different from those observed upon inhibitor application, with respect to relative amplitude or direction. Furthermore, escitalopram, fluoxetine, and cocaine induced a very similar pattern of fluorescent changes overall, which included movements within or around TM1b, EL4, and EL5. Taken together, our data lead us to suggest that competitive inhibitors stabilize hSERT in a state that is different from the apo outward-open conformation as well as inward-facing conformations.
Molecular Pharmacology, 2015, Vol 88, Issue 4, p. 676-88
Amino Acid Sequence; Animals; COS Cells; Cercopithecus aethiops; Crystallography, X-Ray; Female; Fluorometry; HEK293 Cells; Humans; Molecular Sequence Data; Patch-Clamp Techniques; Protein Binding; Protein Conformation; Protein Structure, Secondary; Protein Structure, Tertiary; Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins; Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors; Substrate Specificity; Xenopus laevis