Structural and Functional Characterization of the Interaction of Snapin with the Dopamine Transporter: Differential Modulation of Psychostimulant Actions

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018 Apr;43(5):1041-1051. doi: 10.1038/npp.2017.217. Epub 2017 Sep 14.


The importance of dopamine (DA) neurotransmission is emphasized by its direct implication in several neurological and psychiatric disorders. The DA transporter (DAT), target of psychostimulant drugs, is the key protein that regulates spatial and temporal activity of DA in the synaptic cleft via the rapid reuptake of DA into the presynaptic terminal. There is strong evidence suggesting that DAT-interacting proteins may have a role in its function and regulation. Performing a two-hybrid screening, we identified snapin, a SNARE-associated protein implicated in synaptic transmission, as a new binding partner of the carboxyl terminal of DAT. Our data show that snapin is a direct partner and regulator of DAT. First, we determined the domains required for this interaction in both proteins and characterized the DAT-snapin interface by generating a 3D model. Using different approaches, we demonstrated that (i) snapin is expressed in vivo in dopaminergic neurons along with DAT; (ii) both proteins colocalize in cultured cells and brain and, (iii) DAT and snapin are present in the same protein complex. Moreover, by functional studies we showed that snapin produces a significant decrease in DAT uptake activity. Finally, snapin downregulation in mice produces an increase in DAT levels and transport activity, hence increasing DA concentration and locomotor response to amphetamine. In conclusion, snapin/DAT interaction represents a direct link between exocytotic and reuptake mechanisms and is a potential target for DA transmission modulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins / metabolism*


  • Dopamine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Snapin protein, mouse
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • Amphetamine