Living without DAT: Loss and compensation of the dopamine transporter gene in sauropsids (birds and reptiles)

P. V. Lovell, B. Kasimi, J. Carleton, T. A. Velho, Claudio Mello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The dopamine transporter (DAT) is a major regulator of synaptic dopamine (DA) availability. It plays key roles in motor control and motor learning, memory formation, and reward-seeking behavior, is a major target of cocaine and methamphetamines, and has been assumed to be conserved among vertebrates. We have found, however, that birds, crocodiles, and lizards lack the DAT gene. We also found that the unprecedented loss of this important gene is compensated for by the expression of the noradrenaline transporter (NAT) gene, and not the serotonin transporter genes, in dopaminergic cells, which explains the peculiar pharmacology of the DA reuptake activity previously noted in bird striatum. This unexpected pattern contrasts with that of ancestral vertebrates (e.g. fish) and mammals, where the NAT gene is selectively expressed in noradrenergic cells. DA circuits in birds/reptiles and mammals thus operate with an analogous reuptake mechanism exerted by different genes, bringing new insights into gene expression regulation in dopaminergic cells and the evolution of a key molecular player in reward and addiction pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14093
JournalScientific Reports
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 14 2015

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Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
Reptiles
Birds
Norepinephrine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
Genes
Dopamine
Reward
Vertebrates
Mammals
Alligators and Crocodiles
Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
Lizards
Methamphetamine
Gene Expression Regulation
Cocaine
Fishes
Learning
Pharmacology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Living without DAT : Loss and compensation of the dopamine transporter gene in sauropsids (birds and reptiles). / Lovell, P. V.; Kasimi, B.; Carleton, J.; Velho, T. A.; Mello, Claudio.

In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 5, 14093, 14.09.2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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