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J Neurochem. 2014 May;129(3):548-58. doi: 10.1111/jnc.12652. Epub 2014 Jan 27.

ser31 Tyrosine hydroxylase phosphorylation parallels differences in dopamine recovery in nigrostriatal pathway following 6-OHDA lesion.

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Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology& Neuroscience, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA.


Compensatory mechanisms in dopamine (DA) signaling have long been proposed to delay onset of locomotor symptoms during Parkinson's disease progression until ~ 80% loss of striatal DA occurs. Increased striatal dopamine turnover has been proposed to be a part of this compensatory response, but may occur after locomotor symptoms. Increased tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) activity has also been proposed as a mechanism, but the impact of TH protein loss upon site-specific TH phosphorylation in conjunction with the impact on DA tissue content is not known. The tissue content of DA was determined against TH protein loss in the striatum and substantia nigra (SN) following 6-hydroxydopamine lesion in the medial forebrain bundle in young Sprague-Dawley male rats. Although DA predictably decreased in both regions following 6-hydroxydopamine, there was a significant difference in DA loss between the striatum (75%) and SN (40%), despite similar TH protein loss. Paradoxically, there was a significant decrease in DA against remaining TH protein in striatum, but a significant increase in DA against remaining TH in SN. In the SN, increased DA per remaining TH protein was matched by increased ser31, but not ser40, TH phosphorylation. In striatum, both ser31 and ser40 phosphorylation decreased, reflecting decreased DA per TH. However, in control nigral and striatal tissue, only ser31 phosphorylation correlated with DA per TH protein. Combined, these results suggest that the phosphorylation of ser31 in the SN may be a mechanism to increase DA biosynthesis against TH protein loss in an in vivo model of Parkinson's disease. Properties of dopamine biosynthesis were evaluated in the 6-OHDA model of Parkinson's disease by studying the impact of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) protein loss on its own phosphorylation and dopamine (DA) tissue content in rat nigrostriatal pathway. A dichotomous response was observed between striatum and substantia nigra in that dopamine per remaining TH decreased in striatum, but increased in substantia nigra. Phosphorylation at ser31 reflected these differences, indicating that ser31 phosphorylation may be critical to maintain dopamine with progressive TH protein loss. Drawings are from slides purchased from Motifolio (


6-OHDA; Parkinson's disease; dopamine; nigrostriatal; substantia nigra; tyrosine hydroxylase

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