The carcinine transporter CarT is required in Drosophila photoreceptor neurons to sustain histamine recycling.

PMID 26653853


Synaptic transmission from Drosophila photoreceptors to lamina neurons requires recycling of histamine neurotransmitter. Synaptic histamine is cleared by uptake into glia and conversion into carcinine, which functions as transport metabolite. How carcinine is transported from glia to photoreceptor neurons remains unclear. In a targeted RNAi screen for genes involved in this pathway, we identified carT, which encodes a member of the SLC22A transporter family. CarT expression in photoreceptors is necessary and sufficient for fly vision and behavior. Carcinine accumulates in the lamina of carT flies. Wild-type levels are restored by photoreceptor-specific expression of CarT, and endogenous tagging suggests CarT localizes to synaptic endings. Heterologous expression of CarT in S2 cells is sufficient for carcinine uptake, demonstrating the ability of CarT to utilize carcinine as a transport substrate. Together, our results demonstrate that CarT transports the histamine metabolite carcinine into photoreceptor neurons, thus contributing an essential step to the histamine-carcinine cycle.

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