Article open access publication

Differential Internalization Rates and Postendocytic Sorting of the Norepinephrine and Dopamine Transporters Are Controlled by Structural Elements in the N Termini

Journal of Biological Chemistry, American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (ASBMB), ISSN 0021-9258

Volume 291, 11, 2016

DOI:10.1074/jbc.m115.702050, Dimensions: pub.1058214326, PMC: PMC4786704, PMID: 26786096,



  1. (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  2. (2) Turku University Hospital, grid.410552.7
  3. (3) University of Turku, grid.1374.1
  4. (4) National Institute on Drug Abuse, grid.420090.f


The norepinephrine transporter (NET) mediates reuptake of synaptically released norepinephrine in central and peripheral noradrenergic neurons. The molecular processes governing availability of NET in the plasma membrane are poorly understood. Here we use the fluorescent cocaine analogue JHC 1-64, as well as several other approaches, to investigate the trafficking itinerary of NET in live noradrenergic neurons. Confocal imaging revealed extensive constitutive internalization of JHC 1-64-labeled NET in the neuronal somata, proximal extensions and presynaptic boutons. Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate increased intracellular accumulation of JHC 1-64-labeled NET and caused a parallel reduction in uptake capacity. Internalized NET strongly colocalized with the "long loop" recycling marker Rab11, whereas less overlap was seen with the "short loop" recycling marker Rab4 and the late endosomal marker Rab7. Moreover, mitigating Rab11 function by overexpression of dominant negative Rab11 impaired NET function. Sorting of NET to the Rab11 recycling compartment was further supported by confocal imaging and reversible biotinylation experiments in transfected differentiated CATH.a cells. In contrast to NET, the dopamine transporter displayed markedly less constitutive internalization and limited sorting to the Rab11 recycling compartment in the differentiated CATH.a cells. Exchange of domains between the two homologous transporters revealed that this difference was determined by non-conserved structural elements in the intracellular N terminus. We conclude that NET displays a distinct trafficking itinerary characterized by continuous shuffling between the plasma membrane and the Rab11 recycling compartment and that the functional integrity of the Rab11 compartment is critical for maintaining proper presynaptic NET function.


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Relative Citation ratio (RCR): 0.47

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