American Chemical Society
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Molecular Mechanism for the Allosteric Inhibition of the Human Serotonin Transporter by Antidepressant Escitalopram

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-01-18, 18:08 authored by Weiwei Xue, Tingting Fu, Shengzhe Deng, Fengyuan Yang, Jingyi Yang, Feng Zhu
Human serotine transporter (hSERT) is one of the most influential drug targets, and its allosteric modulators (e.g., escitalopram) have emerged to be the next-generation medication for psychiatric disorders. However, the molecular mechanism underlying the allosteric modulation of hSERT is still elusive. Here, the simulation strategies of conventional (cMD) and steered (SMD) molecular dynamics were applied to investigate this molecular mechanism from distinct perspectives. First, cMD simulations revealed that escitalopram’s binding to hSERT’s allosteric site simultaneously enhanced its binding to the orthosteric site. Then, SMD simulation identified that the occupation of hSERT’s allosteric site by escitalopram could also block its dissociation from the orthosteric site. Finally, by comparing the simulated structures of two hSERT–escitalopram complexes with and without allosteric modulation, a new conformational coupling between an extracellular (Arg104-Glu494) and an intracellular (Lys490-Glu494) salt bridge was identified. In summary, this study explored the mechanism underlying the allosteric modulation of hSERT by collectively applying two MD simulation strategies, which could facilitate our understanding of the allosteric modulations of not only hSERT but also other clinically important therapeutic targets.