, Volume 195, Issue 2, pp 147-166
Date: 22 Aug 2007

A pharmacological analysis of mice with a targeted disruption of the serotonin transporter

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Partial or complete ablation of serotonin transporter (SERT) expression in mice leads to altered responses to serotonin receptor agonists and other classes of drugs.


In the current report, we review and integrate many of the major behavioral, physiological, and neurochemical findings in the current literature regarding pharmacological assessments made in SERT mutant mice.


The absence of normal responses to serotonin reuptake inhibiting (SRI) antidepressants in SERT knockout (−/−) mice demonstrates that actions on SERT are a critical principle mechanism of action of members of this class of antidepressants. Drugs transported by SERT, (+)-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and 1-methyl-4-(2′-aminophenyl)-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (2′-NH2-MPTP), are also inactive in SERT −/− mice. Temperature, locomotor, and electrophysiological responses to various serotonin receptor agonists, including 8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)-tetraline (8-OH-DPAT), ipsapirone, and RU24969, are reduced in SERT −/− mice, despite comparatively lesser reductions in Htr1a and Htr1b binding sites, G-proteins, and other signaling molecules. SERT −/− mice exhibit an ∼90% reduction in head twitches in response to the Htr2a/2c agonist (+/−)-1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenyl)-2-aminopropane (DOI), associated with a profound reduction in arachidonic acid signaling, yet only modest changes in Htr2a and Htr2c binding sites. SERT −/− mice also exhibit altered behavioral responses to cocaine and ethanol, related to abnormal serotonin, and possibly dopamine and norepinephrine, homeostasis.


Together, these studies demonstrate a complex and varied array of modified drug responses after constitutive deletion of SERT and provide insight into the role of serotonin, and in particular, its transporter, in the modulation of complex behavior and in the pharmacological actions of therapeutic agents and drugs of abuse.