Neurobiology: New Clues to Brain Dopamine Control, Cocaine Addiction

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Science  16 Feb 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5251, pp. 909
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5251.909


Researchers have long known that the membrane protein known as the dopamine transporter helps control brain concentrations of dopamine, a neurotransmitter essential in such functions as movement, cognition, and emotion. They also had evidence that it might be a target of addictive drugs, including cocaine and possibly amphetamines. But new work in which the dopamine transporter gene was inactivated in mice suggests that the protein is even more important than once thought. It may in fact be the key factor controlling dopamine levels, as well as the prime target of both cocaine and the amphetamines. The results open the door to improved drugs for treating addiction, and perhaps also Parkinson's disease, that are targeted at the dopamine transporter.