Binding Mode of Human Norepinephrine Transporter Interacting with HIV-1 Tat

Charles Adeniran, Yaxia Yuan, Sarah E. Davis, Ciai Lin, Jiahui Xu, Jun Zhu, Chang Guo Zhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The increase of HIV infection in macrophages results in HIV proteins being released, like HIV Tat which impairs the function of monoamine transporters. HIV-infected patients have displayed increased synaptic levels of dopamine (DA) due to reduced binding and function of monoamine transporters such as the norepinephrine transporter (NET) and the dopamine transporter (DAT). Development of a three-dimensional model of the HIV-1 Tat-human NET (hNET) binding complex would help reveal how HIV-1 Tat causes toxicity in the neuron by affecting DA uptake. Here we use computational techniques such as molecular modeling to study microscopic properties and molecular dynamics of the HIV-1 Tat-hNET binding. These modeling techniques allow us to analyze noncovalent interactions and observe residue-residue contacts to verify a model structure. The modeling results studied here show that HIV-1 Tat-hNET binding is highly dynamic and that HIV-1 Tat preferentially binds to hNET in its outward-open state. In particular, HIV-1 Tat forms hydrogen bond interactions with side chains of hNET residues Y84, K88, and T544. The favorable hydrogen bonding interactions of HIV-1 Tat with the hNET side chain residues Y84 and T544 have been validated by our subsequently performed DA uptake activity assays and site-directed mutagenesis, suggesting that the modeled HIV-1 Tat-hNET binding mode is reasonable. These mechanistic and structural insights gained through homology models discussed in this study are expected to encourage the pursuit of pharmacological and biochemical studies on HIV-1 Tat interacting with hNET mechanisms and detailed structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1519-1527
Number of pages9
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 5 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Molecular docking
  • dopamine
  • molecular dynamics
  • norepinephrine transporter
  • protein-protein interaction
  • trans-activator of transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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