Sodium:neurotransmitter symporter, taurine (IPR002434)

Short name: Na/ntran_symport_taurine

Overlapping homologous superfamilies

Family relationships


Neurotransmitter transport systems are integral to the release, re-uptake and recycling of neurotransmitters at synapses. High affinity transport proteins found in the plasma membrane of presynaptic nerve terminals and glial cells are responsible for the removal from the extracellular space of released-transmitters, thereby terminating their actions [PMID: 15336049]. Plasma membrane neurotransmitter transporters fall into two structurally and mechanistically distinct families. The majority of the transporters constitute an extensive family of homologous proteins that derive energy from the co-transport of Na+ and Cl-, in order to transport neurotransmitter molecules into the cell against their concentration gradient. The family has a common structure of 12 presumed transmembrane helices and includes carriers for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), noradrenaline/adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, proline, glycine, choline, betaine and taurine. They are structurally distinct from the second more-restricted family of plasma membrane transporters, which are responsible for excitatory amino acid transport. The latter couple glutamate and aspartate uptake to the cotransport of Na+ and the counter-transport of K+, with no apparent dependence on Cl- [PMID: 8811182]. In addition, both of these transporter families are distinct from the vesicular neurotransmitter transporters [PMID: 8103691, PMID: 7823024].

Sequence analysis of the Na+/Cl- neurotransmitter superfamily reveals that it can be divided into four subfamilies, these being transporters for monoamines, the amino acids proline and glycine, GABA, and a group of orphan transporters [PMID: 9779464].

Cells regulate their volume and adapt to alterations in the tonicity of their local environment by adjusting their solute content accordingly. Resultant water movements rapidly establish osmotic balance. Solutes utilised in this manner are referred to as osmolytes and include: glycerophosphorylcholine, betaine, myo-inositol, sorbitol and taurine [PMID: 1365830]. Cell membrane transporters for betaine and taurine have been cloned, and by sequence similarity they have been shown to belong to the Na+ and Cl- -coupled neurotransmitter transporter superfamily. The taurine transporter has a predicted length of ~620 amino acids and can also transport beta-alanine. It has been found to be widely distributed in the body, with transcripts being detected in the kidney (high abundance), ileal mucosa, liver, heart and in several regions of the brain including: the corpus callosum, striatum and anterior commisure. Functional studies have revealed that taurine transporter activity is regulated by hypertonicity, and this regulation appears to occur at the level of mRNA accumulation [PMID: 1518851].

GO terms

Biological Process

GO:0006836 neurotransmitter transport

Molecular Function

GO:0005369 taurine:sodium symporter activity

Cellular Component

GO:0005887 integral component of plasma membrane
GO:0016020 membrane

Contributing signatures

Signatures from InterPro member databases are used to construct an entry.