HIV-1 Tat plays an important role in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) by disrupting neurotransmission including dopamine uptake by human dopamine transporter (hDAT). Previous studies have demonstrated that HIV-1 Tat directly binds to hDAT and some amino-acid mutations that attenuate the hDAT-Tat binding also significantly decreased dopamine uptake activity of hDAT. This combined computational-experimental study demonstrates that histidine-547 (H547) of hDAT plays a crucial role in the hDAT-Tat binding and dopamine uptake by hDAT, and that the H547A mutation can not only considerably attenuate Tat-induced inhibition of dopamine uptake, but also significantly increase the Vmax of hDAT for dopamine uptake. The finding of such an unusual hDAT mutant capable of both increasing the Vmax of hDAT for dopamine uptake and disrupting the hDAT-Tat binding may provide an exciting knowledge basis for development of novel concepts for therapeutic treatment of the HAND.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 6, article no. 27314, p. 1-10.

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This work was supported in part by the NIH (grants R01 DA035714, R01 DA035552, R01 DA032910, and R01 DA025100) and the NSF (grant CHE-1111761).

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