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J Biol Chem. 2013 Sep 20;288(38):27534-44. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.441295. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

Membrane-permeable C-terminal dopamine transporter peptides attenuate amphetamine-evoked dopamine release.

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  • 1From the Molecular Neuropharmacology Laboratory, Lundbeck Foundation Center for Biomembranes in Nanomedicine, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, DK-2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.


The dopamine transporter (DAT) is responsible for sequestration of extracellular dopamine (DA). The psychostimulant amphetamine (AMPH) is a DAT substrate, which is actively transported into the nerve terminal, eliciting vesicular depletion and reversal of DA transport via DAT. Here, we investigate the role of the DAT C terminus in AMPH-evoked DA efflux using cell-permeant dominant-negative peptides. A peptide, which corresponded to the last 24 C-terminal residues of DAT (TAT-C24 DAT) and thereby contained the Ca(2+)-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IIα (CaMKIIα) binding domain and the PSD-95/Discs-large/ZO-1 (PDZ)-binding sequence of DAT, was made membrane-permeable by fusing it to the cell membrane transduction domain of the HIV-1 Tat protein (TAT-C24WT). The ability of TAT-C24WT but not a scrambled peptide (TAT-C24Scr) to block the CaMKIIα-DAT interaction was supported by co-immunoprecipitation experiments in heterologous cells. In heterologous cells, we also found that TAT-C24WT, but not TAT-C24Scr, decreased AMPH-evoked 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium efflux. Moreover, chronoamperometric recordings in striatum revealed diminished AMPH-evoked DA efflux in mice preinjected with TAT-C24WT. Both in heterologous cells and in striatum, the peptide did not further inhibit efflux upon KN-93-mediated inhibition of CaMKIIα activity, consistent with a dominant-negative action preventing binding of CaMKIIα to the DAT C terminus. This was further supported by the ability of a peptide with perturbed PDZ-binding sequence, but preserved CaMKIIα binding (TAT-C24AAA), to diminish AMPH-evoked DA efflux in vivo to the same extent as TAT-C24WT. Finally, AMPH-induced locomotor hyperactivity was attenuated following systemic administration of TAT-C24WT but not TAT-C24Scr. Summarized, our findings substantiate that DAT C-terminal protein-protein interactions are critical for AMPH-evoked DA efflux and suggest that it may be possible to target protein-protein interactions to modulate transporter function and interfere with psychostimulant effects.


Addiction; Dopamine Transporter; Neurotransmitter Transport; Protein Kinases; Protein-Protein Interactions; Scaffold Proteins

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