Neurotransmitter Transporters

Doctor Randy Blakely explains that all neurotransmitters have transporters supporting their activity, which are typically involved in assisting and modulating. Genetic changes in transporters can lead to psychiatric problems.

All neurotransmitters – small molecule neurotransmitters – have transporters supporting their activity. So in the big scheme of things, yes, transporter genetic changes can be as important as changes in receptors or ion channels. Many of these transporters, though, are assisting and modulating neurotransmitter action. They are not necessarily essential for neurotransmitter action, so changes – genetic changes – in them often don’t result in a person, let’s say, not being born at all, or having a very severe mental retardation, but they will have behavioral difficulties and behavioral syndromes that are common to psychiatry. Genetic variation in these molecules is part of the larger network of genetic variation that can influence the signaling of these molecules – these neurotransmitters. So, you’ll find that there are going to be rare individuals, families, small numbers of families, where there are these mutations in these transporter proteins.They may not be that common. They may, in fact our evidence suggests, that for many neuropsychiatric disorders, these transporters are intact, there is nothing different about the protein that is made. But what we learn from the rare families that do have these mutations is how important control over the neurotransmitter is for appropriate neural function. We take our leads from that to look more broadly in the network of, let’s say, transporter regulatory proteins.

neurotransmitter, small molecule, transporter, regulatory, genetic variation, neuropsychiatric, ion channels, receptors, randy, blakely

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