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Front Pharmacol


Structure-Function of the High Affinity Substrate Binding Site (S1) of Human Norepinephrine Transporter.



The human norepinephrine transporter (hNET) is a member of the neurotransmitter/sodium symporter family, which also includes the neuronal monoamine transporters for serotonin (SERT) and dopamine (DAT). Its involvement in chronic pain and many neurological disorders underlies its pharmaceutical importance. Using the X-ray crystal structures of the human serotonin transporter (hSERT) (PDB 5I6X) and dopamine transporter (dDAT) (PDB 4M48 and PDB 4XPA) as templates, we developed molecular models for norepinephrine (NE) bound to its high affinity binding site (S1) in the hNET. Our model suggests that the S1 site for NE is deeply buried between transmembrane helices (TMHs) 1, 3, 6, and 8 and overlaps the binding site for leucine in the bacterial leucine transporter (LeuT) and dopamine (DA) in dDAT. Mutational studies identified the functional binding pocket for NE comprised residues A73, A77, N78, V148, N153, I156, G320, F329, N350, S420, G423, and M424, which all influenced NE affinity and/or transport. These effects support a NE-hNET docking model where A73, A77, G320, S420, G423, and M424 form H-bond interactions with NE, V148, I156, and F329 form hydrophobic interactions with NE, whereas N78 affects NE transport and N350 affects NE affinity and transport via an influence on the octahedral co-ordination of the Na ion. Consistent with a conserved structure-function amongst sodium-dependent neurotransmitter transporters, S1 residues A73, A77 (G100 in hSERT), N78, V148 (I150 in hSERT), N153, G320, F329 (Y331 in d DAT), N350, and G423 are conserved in DAT and SERT, indicating they likely play conserved functional roles.