, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 27-33

The Effect of Social Defeat on Tyrosine Hydroxylase Phosphorylation in the Rat Brain and Adrenal Gland

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Abstract

Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme in catecholamine biosynthesis, is regulated acutely by protein phosphorylation and chronically by protein synthesis. No studies have systematically investigated the phosphorylation of these sites in vivo in response to stressors. We specifically investigated the phosphorylation of TH occurring within the first 24 h in response to the social defeat stress in the rat adrenal, the locus coeruleus, substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area. Five groups were investigated; home cage control (HCC), two groups that underwent social defeat (SD+) which were sacrificed either 10 min or 24 h after the end of the protocol and two groups that were put into the cage without the resident being present (SD−) which were sacrificed at time points identical to the SD+. We found at 10 min there were significant increases in serine 40 and 31 phosphorylation levels in the locus coeruleus in SD+ compared to HCC and increases in serine 40 phosphorylation levels in the substantia nigra in SD+ compared to SD−. We found at 24 h there were significant increases in serine 19 phosphorylation levels in the ventral tegmental area in SD+ compared to HCC and decreases in serine 40 phosphorylation levels in the adrenal in SD+ compared to SD−. These findings suggest that the regulation of TH phosphorylation in different catecholamine-producing cells varies considerably and is dependent on both the nature of the stressor and the time at which the response is analysed.