Mechanism for cocaine blocking the transport of dopamine: Insights from molecular modeling and dynamics simulations

Xiaoqin Huang, Howard H. Gu, Chang Guo Zhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Molecular modeling and dynamics simulations have been performed to study how cocaine inhibits dopamine transporter (DAT) for the transport of dopamine. The computationally determined DAT-ligand binding mode is totally different from the previously proposed overlap binding mode in which cocaine-and dopaminebinding sites are the same (Beuming, T.; et al. Nat. Neurosci. 2008, 11, 780-789). The new cocaine-binding site does not overlap with, but is close to, the dopamine-binding site. Analysis of all results reveals that when cocaine binds to DAT, the initial binding site is likely the one modeled in this study because this binding site can naturally accommodate cocaine. Then cocaine may move to the dopamine-binding site after DAT makes some necessary conformational change and expands the binding site cavity. It has been demonstrated that cocaine may inhibit the transport of dopamine through both blocking the initial DAT-dopamine binding and reducing the kinetic turnover of the transporter following the DAT-dopamine binding. The relative contributions to the phenomenological inhibition of the transport of dopamine from blocking the initial binding and reducing the kinetic turnover can be different in different types of assays. The obtained general structural and mechanistic insights are consistent with available experimental data and could be valuable for guiding future studies toward understanding cocaine's inhibiting of other transporters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15057-15066
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number45
StatePublished - Dec 11 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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