Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) is the rate-limiting enzyme in catecholamine biosynthesis, and its stability is a fundamental factor to maintain the level of the catecholamines in cells. However, the intracellular stability of TH determined by the degradation remains unknown; although the TH molecule phosphorylated at its Ser19 was observed in the nucleus, and the phosphorylation suspected to trigger its proteasome-mediated degradation. Computer-assisted analysis using the cNLS Mapper program predicted that two sequences of nuclear localization signals (NLS) exist in the N-terminus of TH molecule containing the phosphorylation sites Ser19, Ser31, and Ser40 (Pro9-Arg38 and Lys12-Ile42): the NLS scores indicated that TH could become localized in both nucleus and cytoplasm. Moreover, inhibition of the importin α/β-mediated nuclear import pathway increased the level of TH phosphorylated at its Ser19 in PC12D cells. The results suggest that TH might be imported to nucleus from cytoplasm to be degraded. Recent studies revealed that proteasomes predominantly exist in the nucleus rather than in the cytoplasm to degrade the nuclear proteins related to cell-cycle progression, gene expression, DNA damage, and DNA repair. Therefore, these studies suggest that the relationship between the phosphorylation and the nuclear localization of the TH molecule should be a matter of focus to understand the mechanism of proteasome-mediated degradation of the enzyme as a first priority.
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