The serotonin transporter (SERT) terminates serotonin signaling by rapid presynaptic reuptake. SERT activity is modulated by antidepressants, e.g., S-citalopram and imipramine, to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. SERT crystal structures reveal two S-citalopram binding pockets in the central binding (S1) site and the extracellular vestibule (S2 site). In this study, our combined in vitro and in silico analysis indicates that the bound S-citalopram or imipramine in S1 is allosterically coupled to the ligand binding to S2 through altering protein conformations. Remarkably, SERT inhibitor Lu AF60097, the first high-affinity S2-ligand reported and characterized here, allosterically couples the ligand binding to S1 through a similar mechanism. The SERT inhibition by Lu AF60097 is demonstrated by the potentiated imipramine binding and increased hippocampal serotonin level in rats. Together, we reveal a S1-S2 coupling mechanism that will facilitate rational design of high-affinity SERT allosteric inhibitors.
Nature Communications, 11 (1), pp. 1491, 2020, ISBN: 2041-1723.