Intricate regulation of tyrosine hydroxylase activity and gene expression

J Neurochem. 1996 Aug;67(2):443-62. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.1996.67020443.x.


Tyrosine hydroxylase catalyzes the rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of the catecholamines dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Therefore, the regulation of tyrosine hydroxylase enzyme number and intrinsic enzyme activity represents the central means for controlling the synthesis of these important biogenic amines. An intricate scheme has evolved whereby tyrosine hydroxylase activity is modulated by nearly every documented form of regulation. Beginning with the genomic DNA, evidence exists for the transcriptional regulation of tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA levels, alternative RNA processing, and the regulation of RNA stability. There is also experimental support for the role of both translational control and enzyme stability in establishing steady-state levels of active tyrosine hydroxylase protein. Finally, mechanisms have been proposed for feedback inhibition of the enzyme by catecholamine products, allosteric modulation of enzyme activity, and phosphorylation-dependent activation of the enzyme by various different kinase systems. Given the growing literature suggesting that different tissues regulate tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA levels and activity in different ways, regulatory mechanisms provide not only redundancy but also diversity in the control of catecholamine biosynthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Alternative Splicing
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Feedback
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphorylation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism*


  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase