5′-Nucleotidase domain-containing protein 2 (NT5DC2) has been revealed by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) as a gene implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders related to the abnormality of dopamine (DA) activity in the brain. Based on its amino acid sequence, NT5DC2 is assumed to be a member of the family of haloacid dehalogenase-type phosphatases; although there is no information about its function and structural conformation. We recently reported that NT5DC2 binds to tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and that the down-regulation of NT5DC2 tended to increase DA synthesis. In this study, we investigated whether NT5DC2 could regulate the catalytic activity of TH, which converts tyrosine to DOPA, because the phosphorylation level of TH, controlled by protein kinases and phosphatases, is well known to regulate its catalytic activity. The down-regulation of NT5DC2 by siRNA increased mainly DOPA synthesis by TH in PC12D cells, although this down-regulation tended to increase the conversion of DOPA to DA by aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase. The increased DOPA synthesis should be attributed to the catalytic activity of TH controlled by its phosphorylation, because Western blot analysis revealed that the down-regulation of NT5DC2 tended to increase the level of TH phosphorylated at its Ser residues, but not that of the TH protein. Moreover, the induction of kinase activity by forskolin markedly potentiated the phosphorylation of TH at its Ser40 in PC12D cells having down-regulated NT5DC2. Immunocytochemical analysis of PC12D cells demonstrated that NT5DC2, TH protein, and TH phosphorylated at its Ser40 were predominantly localized in the cytoplasm and that the localization of NT5DC2 and TH proteins partially overlapped. Collectively, our results indicate that NT5DC2 could work to inhibit the DOPA synthesis by decreasing the phosphorylation of TH at its Ser40. We propose that NT5DC2 might decrease this phosphorylation of TH by promoting dephosphorylation or by inhibiting kinase activity.
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