Altered serotonin (5-HT) signaling is associated with multiple brain disorders, including major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The presynaptic, high-affinity 5-HT transporter (SERT) tightly regulates 5-HT clearance after release from serotonergic neurons in the brain and enteric nervous systems, among other sites. Accumulating evidence suggests that SERT is dynamically regulated in distinct activity states as a result of environmental and intracellular stimuli, with regulation perturbed by disease-associated coding variants. Our lab identified a rare, hypermorphic SERT coding substitution, Gly56Ala, in subjects with ASD, finding that the Ala56 variant stabilizes a high-affinity outward-facing conformation (SERT∗) that leads to elevated 5-HT uptake in vitro and in vivo. Hyperactive SERT Ala56 appears to preclude further activity enhancements by p38α mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and can be normalized by pharmacological p38α MAPK inhibition, consistent with SERT Ala56 mimicking, constitutively, a high-activity conformation entered into transiently by p38α MAPK activation. We hypothesize that changes in SERT-interacting proteins (SIPs) support the shift of SERT into the SERT∗ state which may be captured by comparing the composition of SERT Ala56 protein complexes with those of wildtype (WT) SERT, defining specific interactions through comparisons of protein complexes recovered using preparations from SERT-/- (knockout; KO) mice. Using quantitative proteomic-based approaches, we identify a total of 459 SIPs, that demonstrate both SERT specificity and sensitivity to the Gly56Ala substitution, with a striking bias being a loss of SIP interactions with SERT Ala56 compared to WT SERT. Among this group are previously validated SIPs, such as flotillin-1 (FLOT1) and protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), whose functions are believed to contribute to SERT microdomain localization and regulation. Interestingly, our studies nominate a number of novel SIPs implicated in ASD, including fragile X mental retardation 1 protein (FMR1) and SH3 and multiple ankyrin repeat domains protein 3 (SHANK3), of potential relevance to long-standing evidence of serotonergic contributions to ASD. Further investigation of these SIPs, and the broader networks they engage, may afford a greater understanding of ASD as well as other brain and peripheral disorders associated with perturbed 5-HT signaling.
Keywords: SERT interacting proteins; SERT regulation; autism spectrum disorder (ASD); quantitative proteomic analysis; serotonin transporter.
Copyright © 2020 Quinlan, Robson, Ye, Rose, Schey and Blakely.