How dopamine transporter interacts with dopamine: Insights from molecular modeling and simulation

Xiaoqin Huang, Chang Guo Zhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


By performing homology modeling, molecular docking, and molecular dynamics simulations, we have developed three-dimensional (3D) structural models of both dopamine transporter and dopamine transporter-dopamine complex in the environment of lipid bilayer and solvent water. According to the simulated structure of dopamine transporter-dopamine complex, dopamine was orientated in a hydrophobic pocket at the midpoint of the membrane. The modeled 3D structures provide some detailed structural and mechanistic insights concerning how dopamine transporter (DAT) interacts with dopamine at atomic level, extending our mechanistic understanding of the dopamine reuptake with the help of Na + ions. The general features of the modeled 3D structures are consistent with available experimental data. Based on the modeled structures, our calculated binding free energy (ΔGbind=-6.4 kcal/mol) for dopamine binding with DAT is also reasonably close to the experimentally derived ΔGbind value of -7.4 kcal/mol. Finally, a possible dopamine-entry pathway, which involves formation and breaking of the salt bridge between side chains of Arg85 and Asp476, is proposed based on the results obtained from the modeling and molecular dynamics simulation. The new structural and mechanistic insights obtained from this computational study are expected to stimulate future, further biochemical and pharmacological studies on the detailed structures and mechanisms of DAT and other homologous transporters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3627-3639
Number of pages13
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant No. R01 DA013930 to C.-G. Z.).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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