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Mol Pharmacol. 1992 Sep;42(3):383-90.

Cloning, pharmacological characterization, and chromosome assignment of the human dopamine transporter.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Laboratories, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710.


We have screened a human substantia nigra cDNA library with probes derived from the rat dopamine transporter. A 3.5-kilobase cDNA clone was isolated and its corresponding gene was located on the distal end of chromosome 5 (5p15.3). This human clone codes for a 620-amino acid protein with a calculated molecular weight of 68,517. Hydropathicity analysis suggests the presence of 12 putative transmembrane domains, a characteristic feature of sodium-dependent neurotransmitter carriers. The rat and the human dopamine transporters are 92% homologous. When permanently expressed in mouse fibroblast Ltk- cells, the human clone is able to induce a saturable, time- and sodium-dependent, dopamine uptake. This transport is blocked by psychostimulant drugs (cocaine, l- and d-amphetamine, and phenyclidine), neurotoxins (6-hydroxydopamine and N-methyl-4-phenylpyridine (MPP))+), neurotransmitters (epinephrine, norepinephrine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, and serotonin), antidepressants (amitriptyline, bupropion, desipramine, mazindol, nomifensine, and nortriptyline), and various uptake inhibitors (mazindol, GBR 12783, GBR 12909, and amfonelic acid). The rank orders of the Ki values of these substances at the human and the rat dopamine transporters are highly correlated (r = 0.998). The cloning of DNA human dopamine transporter gene has allowed establishment of a cell line stably expressing the human dopamine transporter and, for the first time, an extensive characterization of its pharmacology. Furthermore, these newly developed tools will help in the study of the regulation of dopamine transport in humans and in the clarification of the potential role of the dopamine transporter in a variety of disease states.

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