Importance of cholesterol in dopamine transporter function

J Neurochem. 2012 Dec;123(5):700-15. doi: 10.1111/jnc.12007. Epub 2012 Oct 11.


The conformation and function of the dopamine transporter (DAT) can be affected by manipulating membrane cholesterol, yet there is no agreement as to the impact of cholesterol on the activity of lipid-raft localized DATs compared with non-raft DATs. Given the paucity of information regarding the impact of cholesterol on substrate efflux by the DAT, this study explores its influence on the kinetics of DAT-mediated DA efflux induced by dextroamphetamine, as measured by rotating disk electrode voltammetry (RDEV). Treatment with methyl-β-cyclodextrin (mβCD), which effectively depletes total membrane cholesterol--uniformly affecting cholesterol-DAT interactions in both raft and non-raft membrane domains--reduced both DA uptake and efflux rate. In contrast, disruption of raft-localized DAT by cholesterol chelation with nystatin had no effect, arguing against a vital role for raft-localized DAT in substrate uptake or efflux. Supranormal repletion of cholesterol-depleted cells with the analog desmosterol, a non-raft promoting sterol, was as effective as cholesterol itself in restoring transport rates. Further studies with Zn(2+) and the conformationally biased W84L DAT mutant supported the idea that cholesterol is important for maintaining the outward-facing DAT with normal rates of conformational interconversions. Collectively, these results point to a role for direct cholesterol-DAT interactions in regulating DAT function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol / chemistry*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry*
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Membrane Microdomains / chemistry
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Cholesterol