ROBERT JAMES GEORGE, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Tyrosine hydroxylase (E.C., L-tyrosine tetrahydropteridine:oxygen oxidoreductase, 3-hydroxylating), is the initial and rate limiting enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway of catecholamine production. The mechanism by which the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase is altered in response to excitation of adrenergic cells has been suggested to be a covalent modification of the enzyme. A variety of evidence suggests that the stimulus-induced modification of tyrosine hydroxylase responsible for activating the enzyme is an increased phosphorylation of the enzyme. Tyrosine hydroxylase has been shown to be phosphoprotein in situ and undergoes changes in its state of phosphorylation upon stimulation of the adrenergic tissue. Further, in vitro phosphorylation of tyrosine hydroxylase increases the activity of the enzyme in a manner kinetically similar to the changes observed in the enzyme after stimulation of the intact adrenergic tissue. Thus, the covalent modification of tyrosine hydroxylase by reversible phosphorylation appears to provide a rapid and sensitive mechanism of coupling the activity of the enzyme to the excitation process. The mechanism by which the adrenergic cell mediates the depolarization-dependent phosphorylation and activation of tyrosine hydroxylase is controversial. The most accepted working model suggests that the cAMP-dependent protein kinase mediates this process, however a variety of data are inconsistent with this hypothesis. This dissertation attempts to identify the protein kinase(s) responsible for mediating the stimulus-dependent phosphorylation of tyrosine hydroxylase in purified, isolated bovine adrenal chromaffin cells. These studies address this question by first identifying the protein kinase activities in the chromaffin cells which can phosphorylate tyrosine hydroxylase and subsequently, evaluating the possibility that these protein kinases mediate the stimulus-dependent phosphorylation of the enzyme by tryptic peptide mapping. The maps of tyrosine hydroxylase phosphorylated by these protein kinase activities were compared with that of tyrosine hydroxylase phosphorylated in situ. The outcome of these studies have been the identification of three protein kinase activities in the chromaffin cells which can phosphorylate tyrosine hydroxylase in vitro, and the determination that one, a calcium-, calmodulin-dependent protein kinase, is capable of accounting for the pattern of phosphate incorporation into tyrosine hydroxylase observed in situ. The results of these experiments suggest that the depolarization-dependent activation of tyrosine hydroxylase in adrenal chromaffin cells may be mediated by the activation of a calcium-, calmodulin-dependent protein kinase by the influx of calcium into the cells and the subsequent phosphorylation of tyrosine hydroxylase by this enzyme.

Subject Area

Anatomy & physiology|Animals

Recommended Citation

GEORGE, ROBERT JAMES, "STUDIES ON THE PHOSPHORYLATION OF TYROSINE HYDROXYLASE" (1984). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8419087.