A juxtamembrane mutation in the N terminus of the dopamine transporter induces preference for an inward-facing conformation.
The present study elucidated the role of aspartate 345, a residue conserved in the third intracellular loop of all Na+/Cl(-)-dependent neurotransmitter transporters, in conformational changes of the dopamine (DA) transporter. Asparagine substitution (D345N) resulted in near normal transporter expression on the cell surface but caused extremely low Vmax and Km values for DA uptake, converted the inhibitory effect of Zn2+ on DA uptake to a stimulatory one, and eliminated reverse transport. The cocaine-like inhibitor 2beta-carbomethoxy-3beta-(4-fluorophenyl)tropane or the selective DA transporter inhibitor GBR12935 bound to D345N with a normal affinity and still inhibited DA uptake potently. However, the mutation reduced the binding capacity of the surface transporter for these two inhibitors by 90% or more. Moreover, the binding activity of D345N can be significantly improved by Zn2+ but not by Na+. These results are consistent with a defect in reorientation of the substrate-binding site to the extracellular side, leading to a loss of the outward-facing conformational state where external DA binds to initiate uptake and the inhibitors bind to initiate uptake inhibition. Alanine or glutamate substitution produced a similar phenotype, suggesting that both the negative charge and the residue volume at position 345 are vital. Furthermore, in intact cells, cocaine potentiated the reaction of the membrane-impermeant sulfhydryl reagent methanethiosulfonate ethyltrimethylammonium with the extracellularly located endogenous cysteines of D345N but not those of wild type, and this potentiation was blocked upon K+ substitution for Na+. Thus, cocaine binding to D345N likely induces a different and Na(+)-dependent conformational change, which may contribute to its Na(+)-dependent uptake inhibitory activity.