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J Neurochem. 1998 Nov;71(5):1785-803.

The family of Na+/Cl- neurotransmitter transporters.

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Department of Biochemistry, Tel Aviv University, Israel.


The termination of neurotransmission is achieved by rapid uptake of the released neurotransmitter by specific high-affinity neurotransmitter transporters. Most of these transporters are encoded by a family of genes (Na+/Cl- transporters) having a similar membrane topography of 12 transmembrane helices. An evolutionary tree revealed five distinct subfamilies: gamma-aminobutyric acid transporters, monoamine transporters, amino acid transporters, "orphan" transporters, and the recently discovered bacterial transporters. The bacterial transporters that belong to this family may help to develop heterologous expression systems with the aim of solving the three-dimensional structure of these membrane proteins. Some of the neurotransmitter transporters have been implicated as important sites for drug action. Monoamine transporters, for example, are targeted by major classes of antidepressants, psychostimulants, and antihypertensive drugs. Localization of individual transporters in specific cells and brain areas is pertinent to understanding their contribution to neurotransmission and their potential as targets for drugs. The most important questions in the field include resolving the mechanism of neurotransmitter transport, the structure of the transporters, and the interaction of each transporter in complex neurological activities.

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