Vasoactive intestinal peptide induces both tyrosine hydroxylase activity and tetrahydrobiopterin biosynthesis in PC12 cells

P. Z. Anastasiadis, L. Bezin, L. J. Gordon, B. Imerman, J. Blitz, R. A. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Vasoactive intestinal peptide plays an important role in the trans- synaptic activation of tyrosine hydroxylase in sympathoadrenal tissues in response to physiological stress. Since tyrosine hydroxylase is thought to be subsaturated with its cofactor, tetrahydrobiopterin, we tested the hypothesis that up-regulation of tyrosine hydroxylase gene expression following vasoactive intestinal peptide treatment is accompanied by a concomitant elevation of intracellular tetrahydrobiopterin biosynthesis. We also investigated the second messenger systems involved in vasoactive intestinal peptide's effects on tetrahydrobiopterin metabolism. Our results demonstrate that treatment of PC12 cells for 24 h with vasoactive intestinal peptide induced intracellular tetrahydrobiopterin levels 3.5-fold. This increase was due to increased expression of the gene encoding GTP cyclohydrolase, the initial and rate-limiting enzyme in tetrahydrobiopterin biosynthesis, which was blocked by the transcriptional inhibitor, actinomycin D. Activation of tyrosine hydroxylase and GTP cyclohydrolase by vasoactive intestinal peptide was mediated by cyclic-AMP. Furthermore, stimulation of cyclic-AMP-mediated responses or protein kinase C activity induced the maximal in vitro activities of both tyrosine hydroxylase and GTP cyclohydrolase; the responses were additive when both treatments were combined. Induction of sphingolipid metabolism had no effect on the activation of tyrosine hydroxylase, while it induced GTP cyclohydrolase in a protein kinase C-independent manner. Our results support the hypothesis that intracellular tetrahydrobiopterin levels are tightly linked to tyrosine hydroxylation and that tetrahydrobiopterin bioavailability modulates catecholamine synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 21 1998


  • Adrenal medulla
  • Catecholamines
  • GTP cyclohydrolase
  • Protein kinase C
  • Sphingosine
  • cAMP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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