Our previous report has revealed that PKC activation by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA) inhibited the uptake activity of serotonin transporter (SET), via an indirect mechanism unknown, but not likely via direct phosphorylation of SET by PKC (Sakai et al., 1997. J. Neurochem. 68, 2618-2624). To elucidate whether PKC can directly phosphorylate SET in vivo, FLAG-tagged SET (FLAG-SET) was expressed in COS-7 cells and the TPA-induced incorporation of (32)P into immunoprecipitated FLAG-SET was examined. PKC activation with TPA caused no phosphorylation of FLAG-SET expressed in COS-7 cells. On the other hand, morphological change associated with the disruption of filamentous actin (F-actin) was seen in TPA-treated COS-7 cells. Therefore, we studied the effects of cytochalasin D, an inhibitor of actin polymerization, on the uptake activity of the serotonin transporter (SET) to elucidate whether the actin cytoskeleton modulates the SET uptake activity. The treatment with cytochalasin D inhibited the uptake activity of both native and recombinant SET in a concentration-dependent manner. Eadie-Hofstee analysis revealed that cytochalasin D down-regulated the recombinant SET uptake activity by reducing the V(max), but not the K(m), mimicking the result observed in TPA-induced inhibition of SET activity (Sakai et al., 1997. J. Neurochem. 68, 2618-2624). The cytochalasin D-induced inhibition of SET activity was partially, but significantly, reversed by jasplakinolide, a cell permeable stabilizer of F-actin, whereas TPA-induced inhibition of SET activity was not reversed by jasplakinolide. To elucidate whether the subcellular localization of SET was changed in response to cytochalasin D or TPA, we expressed the SET fused with the green fluorescent protein (SET-GFP) in COS-7 cells and observed the subcellular distribution of SET-GFP under a confocal laser scanning fluorescent microscope. Neither cytochalasin D nor TPA markedly changed the SET-GFP cellular localization, although these drugs caused morphological change in the GFP-transfected COS-7 cells. In addition, SET activity was not altered by the treatment with either colchicine, an inhibitor of microtubule polymerization, or taxol, a stabilizer of microtubule polymerization. These results suggest that the SET uptake activity was regulated by the state of the actin cytoskeleton and that TPA exerts its inhibitory action on SET activity, in part, via disruption of F-actin and subsequent morphological change in cells.