Molecular heterogeneity of neurotransporters: implications for neurodegeneration
Neurotransporters are high-affinity transport proteins located in the plasma membrane of both presynaptic nerve and glial cells that mediate the removal of neurotransmitters from the synaptic cleft or represent intracellular transport systems that concentrate neurotransmitters in synaptic vesicles. They comprise three subgroups, Na+/Cl-- or Na+/K+-dependent cell surface transporters and H+-dependent transporters associated with synaptic vesicles. The new insights into neurotransporter diversity provide the means for novel approaches of studying neurotransmitter uptake processes at the molecular level, such as substrate translocation and antagonist binding as well as regulation of gene expression, of intracellular trafficking, and of posttranslational modification. Moreover, modeling neurotransporter-related disorders and therapeutic strategies in genetically engineered animals are now feasible research strategies. Through an improved understanding of the modulation of neurotransporter function in the brain, it may be possible to identify the molecular factors underlying the etiopathogenesis and pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disorders. Due to their specificity for distinct neuronal systems, neurotransporters and their genes are potential targets for novel therapeutic strategies.
KeywordsSynaptic Vesicle Biogenic Amine Dopamine Transporter Serotonin Transporter Glutamate Transporter
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