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The dopamine transporter or DAT is a monoamine transporter that is specific for clearing the neurotransmitter dopamine out of the synapse and into a glial cell or the presynaptic neuron. The dopamine transporter is important for neural function because it removes excess dopamine from the synapse, effectively ending the signalling of the neurotransmitter. The DAT, however, is not located in the active zone of the synapse but adjacent to it. Furthermore, dopamine transporters are found on dendrites and axons of dopaminergic neurons from the Substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area. This clearly indicates a role of DAT in the removal of dopamine from the extracellular space and not strictly in the synapse area.
Cocaine blocks the action of the dopamine transporter and, to a lesser extent, other transporters. This causes an overload of dopamine in the synapse, since the neurotransmitter cannot be cleared away after it is released.
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