Illuminating the monoamine transporters: Fluorescently labelled ligands to study dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine transporters

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2023 Nov;133(5):473-484. doi: 10.1111/bcpt.13827. Epub 2023 Jan 7.


Fluorescence microscopy has revolutionized the visualization of physiological processes in live-cell systems. With the recent innovations in super resolution microscopy, these events can be examined with high precision and accuracy. The development of fluorescently labelled small molecules has provided a significant advance in understanding the physiological relevance of targeted proteins that can now be visualized at the cellular level. One set of physiologically important target proteins are the monoamine transporters (MATs) that play an instrumental role in maintaining monoamine signalling homeostasis. Understanding the mechanisms underlying their regulation and dysregulation is fundamental to treating several neuropsychiatric conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression and substance use disorders. Herein, we describe the rationale behind the small molecule design of fluorescently labelled ligands (FLL) either as MAT substrates or inhibitors as well as their applications to advance our understanding of this class of transporters in health and disease.

Keywords: fluorescent probes; fluorescently labelled ligands; monoamine transporters; transporter function; transporter trafficking.

Publication types

  • Review