Spermine and spermidine act as neuromodulators upon binding to the extracellular site(s) of various ionotropic receptors, such as N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors. To gain access to the receptors, polyamines synthesized in neurons and astrocytes are stored in secretory vesicles and released upon depolarization. Although vesicular storage is mediated in an ATP-dependent, reserpine-sensitive fashion, the transporter responsible for this process remains unknown. SLC18B1 is the fourth member of the SLC18 transporter family, which includes vesicular monoamine transporters and vesicular acetylcholine transporter. Proteoliposomes containing purified human SLC18B1 protein actively transport spermine and spermidine by exchange of H+. SLC18B1 protein is predominantly expressed in the hippocampus and is associated with vesicles in astrocytes. SLC18B1 gene knockdown decreased both SLC18B1 protein and spermine/spermidine contents in astrocytes. These results indicated that SLC18B1 encodes a vesicular polyamine transporter (VPAT).
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