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J Biol Chem. 2013 Jan 4;288(1):20-32. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.407874. Epub 2012 Nov 16.

Phosphorylation of dopamine transporter serine 7 modulates cocaine analog binding.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203-9037, USA.


As an approach to elucidating dopamine transporter (DAT) phosphorylation characteristics, we examined in vitro phosphorylation of a recombinant rat DAT N-terminal peptide (NDAT) using purified protein kinases. We found that NDAT becomes phosphorylated at single distinct sites by protein kinase A (Ser-7) and calcium-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (Ser-13) and at multiple sites (Ser-4, Ser-7, and Ser-13) by protein kinase C (PKC), implicating these residues as potential sites of DAT phosphorylation by these kinases. Mapping of rat striatal DAT phosphopeptides by two-dimensional thin layer chromatography revealed basal and PKC-stimulated phosphorylation of the same peptide fragments and comigration of PKC-stimulated phosphopeptide fragments with NDAT Ser-7 phosphopeptide markers. We further confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis and mass spectrometry that Ser-7 is a site for PKC-stimulated phosphorylation in heterologously expressed rat and human DATs. Mutation of Ser-7 and nearby residues strongly reduced the affinity of rat DAT for the cocaine analog (-)-2β-carbomethoxy-3β-(4-fluorophenyl) tropane (CFT), whereas in rat striatal tissue, conditions that promote DAT phosphorylation caused increased CFT affinity. Ser-7 mutation also affected zinc modulation of CFT binding, with Ala and Asp substitutions inducing opposing effects. These results identify Ser-7 as a major site for basal and PKC-stimulated phosphorylation of native and expressed DAT and suggest that Ser-7 phosphorylation modulates transporter conformational equilibria, shifting the transporter between high and low affinity cocaine binding states.

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