Genetic perspectives on the serotonin transporter

Brain Res Bull. 2001 Nov 15;56(5):487-94. doi: 10.1016/s0361-9230(01)00622-0.


The serotonin transporter (5-HTT) is most well known as the site of action of the serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which were initially developed as antidepressants, but now are the most widely used agents in the treatment of many additional neuropsychiatric and related disorders. The discovery that the gene that expresses the 5-HTT possesses a functional promoter-region polymorphism, which is associated with temperament and personality traits such as anxiety and negative emotionality as well as some behaviors, led to many studies examining this polymorphism in individuals with different neuropsychiatric disorders. The subsequent development of mice with a targeted disruption of the 5-HTT in our laboratory has provided an experimental model to examine the many consequences of diminished (in +/-, heterozygote mice) or absent (in -/-, homozygote knockout mice) function of the 5-HTT. The 5-HTT-deficient mice were also crossed with other knockout mice, allowing the study of multiple neurobiologic dysfunctions. As multiple genes are probably involved in the expression of complex behaviors such as anxiety, as well as neuropsychiatric disorders, these more genetically complex mice may more closely model disorders with complex etiologies. Thus, the combination of these comparative human and mouse studies may extend the opportunities to examine genetic alterations from a novel "bottom-up" approach [gene knockout or partial gene knockout in a combinational gene x gene x (yet unknown) gene approach], which is complementary to the traditional "top-down" genetic approach based upon studies of individuals with diagnosed neuropsychiatric disorders and their family members.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / deficiency*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Mental Disorders / genetics*
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout / genetics*
  • Mice, Knockout / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Receptors, Serotonin / drug effects
  • Receptors, Serotonin / genetics
  • Receptors, Serotonin / metabolism
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Slc6a4 protein, mouse
  • Serotonin