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J Neurochem. 1997 Oct;69(4):1720-8.

L-DOPA is a substrate for tyrosine hydroxylase.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, Norway.


In the presence of thiols, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) oxidizes L-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) with a specific activity of up to 140 nmol min(-1) mg(-1) at 37 degrees C and pH 7.0, which is approximately 12-50% of its TH activity under similar experimental conditions. Using assay conditions that are optimal for measuring TH activity, the specific DOPA oxidase activity of human TH is similar to that of mushroom tyrosinase, but the two enzymes are clearly different in terms of substrate specificities, cofactor dependencies, and selectivity with respect to the effects of metal chelators and other inhibitors. In the presence of an excess of dithiothreitol, 2-mercaptoethanol, cysteine, or reduced glutathione, the reaction products of the two enzymes are identical and have been identified tentatively as thioether derivatives of DOPA. Theoretically, the oxidation of L-DOPA by TH may contribute to the formation of neuromelanin (pheomelanin) in catecholaminergic neurons and in the metabolism of DOPA to reactive intermediates that can react with free thiol groups in cellular proteins. The DOPA oxidase activity of TH can lead to errors in the estimation of in vivo or in vitro TH activity, and currently used assay protocols may have to be modified to avoid interference from this activity.

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