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ACS Chem Neurosci. 2016 Jul 20;7(7):941-51. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.6b00064. Epub 2016 May 10.

Regulation of Tyrosine Hydroxylase Expression and Phosphorylation in Dopamine Transporter-Deficient Mice.

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Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Neuroscience, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center , Shreveport, Louisiana 71130, United States.
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest School of Medicine , Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, United States.


Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine transporters (DATs) regulate dopamine (DA) neurotransmission at the biosynthesis and reuptake steps, respectively. Dysfunction or loss of these proteins occurs in impaired locomotor or addictive behavior, but little is known about the influence of DAT expression on TH function. Differences in TH phosphorylation, DA tissue content, l-DOPA biosynthesis, and DA turnover exist between the somatodendritic and terminal field compartments of nigrostriatal and mesoaccumbens pathways. We examined whether differential DAT expression affects these compartmental differences in DA regulation by comparing TH expression and phosphorylation at ser31 and ser40. In heterozygous DAT knockout (KO) (+/-) mice, DA tissue content and DA turnover were unchanged relative to wild-type mice, despite a 40% reduction in DAT protein expression. In DAT KO (-/-) mice, DA turnover increased in all DA compartments, but DA tissue content decreased (90-96%) only in terminal fields. TH protein expression and phosphorylation were differentially affected within DA pathway compartments by relative expression of DAT. TH protein decreased (∼74%), though to a significantly lesser extent than DA, in striatum and nucleus accumbens (NAc) in DAT -/- mice, with no decrease in substantia nigra or ventral tegmental area. Striatal ser31 TH phosphorylation and recovery of DA relative to TH protein expression in DAT +/- and DAT -/- mice decreased, whereas ser40 TH phosphorylation increased ∼2- to 3-fold in striatum and NAc of DAT -/- mice. These results suggest that DAT expression affects TH expression and phosphorylation largely in DA terminal field compartments, further corroborating evidence for dichotomous regulation of TH between somatodendritic and terminal field compartments of the nigrostriatal and mesoaccumbens pathways.


Tyrosine hydroxylase; dopamine neurotransmission; dopamine transporters; l-DOPA

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