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Principal Investigator

Biography

Dr. Amara is currently the Scientific Director of the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health. Work in her laboratory has focused on the structure, function, and cellular physiology of neurotransmitter transporters, including glutamate transporters as well as the biogenic amine transporters, major targets for psychostimulant drugs and antidepressants. She received a BS from Stanford University, a PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of California, San Diego and has previously held faculty positions at Yale University School of Medicine, at the Vollum Institute in Portland Oregon and as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Yale and in Oregon. Prior to moving to NIH she served as the Thomas Detre Chair of Neurobiology and Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2004), a fellow of the AAAS (2007) and a past-President of the Society for Neuroscience (2011).

Research Interests

Work in Dr. Amara’s laboratory has examined the impact of psychostimulant and antidepressant drugs on the signaling properties, physiology and acute regulation of biogenic amine transporters. Her group has also addressed the structure, function and physiology of glutamate transporters. This work has demonstrated that transporters can serve dual functions as transporters and as substrate-gated ion channels, revealing additional mechanisms by which carriers regulate neuronal excitability. Dr. Amara’s laboratory continues to investigate:

  1. Regulation of transporter function and trafficking by amphetamines
  2. Structure-function relationships in excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs)
  3. Modulation of dopamine transporters (DAT) by GPCRs
  4. Genetics and functional analyses of human trace amine receptors

Selected Publications

Underhill SM, Wheeler DS, Li M, Watts SD, Ingram SL, Amara SG (2014). Amphetamine modulates excitatory neurotransmission through endocytosis of the glutamate transporter EAAT3 in dopamine neurons. Neuron 83, 404-416. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2014.05.043. [Pubmed Link]

Underhill SM, Hullihen PD, Chen J, Fenollar-Ferrer C, Rizzo MA, Ingram SL, Amara SG (2019) Amphetamines signal through intracellular TAAR1 receptors coupled to Gα13 and GαS in discrete subcellular domains. Mol Psychiatry, in press (e-pub ahead of print) https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0469-2. [Pubmed Link]

Garcia-Olivares J, Baust T, Harris S, Hamilton P, Galli A, Amara SG, Torres GE (2017). Gβγ subunit activation promotes dopamine efflux through the dopamine transporter. Mol Psychiatry 22, 1673-1679. https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2017.176. [Pubmed Link]

Wheeler DS, Underhill SM, Stolz DB, Murdoch GH, Thiels E, Romero G, Amara SG (2015). Amphetamine activates Rho GTPase signaling to mediate dopamine transporter internalization and acute behavioral effects of amphetamine. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112, E7138-47. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1511670112. [Pubmed Link]

Cheng MH, Torres-Salazar D, Gonzalez-Suarez AD, Amara SG, Bahar I (2017). Substrate transport and anion permeation proceed through distinct pathways in glutamate transporters. Elife 6. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.25850. [Pubmed Link]


Building 35A, Room GE-414, MSC 3747
BETHESDA, MD 20892

Phone: +1 301 496 3501

susan.amara@nih.gov