Bioenergetics of Neurotransmitter Transport

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Neurotransmitter transporters are essential components in the recycling of neurotransmitters released during neuronal activity. These transporters are the targets for important drugs affecting mood and behavior. They fall into at least four gene families, two encoding proteins in the plasma membrane and two in the synaptic vesicle membrane, although the known vesicular transporters have not all been cloned. Each of these transporters works by coupling the downhill movement of small ions such as Na+, Cl−, K+, and H+ to the uphill transport of neurotransmitter. Plasma membrane transporters move the transmitter into the cytoplasm by cotransport with Na+. Many transporters also couple Cl− cotransport to transmitter influx and these all belong to the NaCl-coupled family, although within the family the coupling stoichiometry can vary. Transporters for glutamate couple influx of this excitatory amino acid to Na+ and H+ influx and K+ efflux. Transporters in synaptic vesicles couple H+ efflux to neurotransmitter transport from the cytoplasm to the vesicle lumen.

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