Rare autism-associated variants implicate syntaxin 1 (STX1 R26Q) phosphorylation and the dopamine transporter (hDAT R51W) in dopamine neurotransmission and behaviors

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Etienne Cartier
  • Peter J Hamilton
  • Andrea N Belovich
  • Aparna Shekar
  • Nicholas G Campbell
  • Christine Saunders
  • Thorvald F Andreassen
  • Gether, Ulrik
  • Jeremy Veenstra-Vanderweele
  • James S Sutcliffe
  • Paula G Ulery-Reynolds
  • Kevin Erreger
  • Heinrich J G Matthies
  • Aurelio Galli

BACKGROUND: Syntaxin 1 (STX1) is a presynaptic plasma membrane protein that coordinates synaptic vesicle fusion. STX1 also regulates the function of neurotransmitter transporters, including the dopamine (DA) transporter (DAT). The DAT is a membrane protein that controls DA homeostasis through the high-affinity re-uptake of synaptically released DA.

METHODS: We adopt newly developed animal models and state-of-the-art biophysical techniques to determine the contribution of the identified gene variants to impairments in DA neurotransmission observed in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

OUTCOMES: Here, we characterize two independent autism-associated variants in the genes that encode STX1 and the DAT. We demonstrate that each variant dramatically alters DAT function. We identify molecular mechanisms that converge to inhibit reverse transport of DA and DA-associated behaviors. These mechanisms involve decreased phosphorylation of STX1 at Ser14 mediated by casein kinase 2 as well as a reduction in STX1/DAT interaction. These findings point to STX1/DAT interactions and STX1 phosphorylation as key regulators of DA homeostasis.

INTERPRETATION: We determine the molecular identity and the impact of these variants with the intent of defining DA dysfunction and associated behaviors as possible complications of ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)135-146
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

ID: 138813485