The vesicular monoamine transporter 2: An underexplored pharmacological target

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HighlightsVMAT1 and VMAT2 transport cytosolic monoamines into synaptic vesicles.Reduced VMAT function has been linked to neurodegenerative conditions.Modulation of vesicular function may be beneficial in treating a variety of diseases.Fluorescent ligands can assess vesicular function in a high throughput format.Active transport of neurotransmitters into synaptic vesicles is required for their subsequent exocytotic release. In the monoamine system, this process is carried out by the vesicular monoamine transporters (VMAT1 and VMAT2). These proteins are responsible for vesicular packaging of dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and histamine. These proteins are essential for proper neuronal function; however, compared to their plasma membrane counterparts, there are few drugs available that target these vesicular proteins. This is partly due to the added complexity of crossing the plasma membrane, but also to the technical difficulty of assaying for vesicular uptake in high throughput. Until recently, reagents to enable high throughput screening for function of these vesicular neurotransmitter transporters have not been available. Fortunately, novel compounds and methods are now making such screening possible; thus, a renewed focus on these transporters as potential targets is timely and necessary.

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