• extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2;
  • histamine;
  • Jun N-terminal kinase;
  • p38;
  • tyrosine hydroxylase


In bovine adrenal chromaffin cells (BACC) histamine promotes a rapid increase in the intracellular levels of Ca2+ together with the release of catecholamines and the phosphorylation of the catecholamine biosynthetic enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). In this study we investigated the role of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2), stress activated protein kinase (p38) and Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) on the histamine-induced activation and phosphorylation of TH. We found that in BACC histamine produced a rapid, long lasting and histamine type-1 (H1) receptor-dependent increase in the phosphorylation levels of ERK1/2, p38 and JNK which was accompanied by a H1 receptor-dependent increase in TH activity. This increase in TH activity was partially blocked by the MEK1/2 inhibitor U0126 but was unaffected by the p38 antagonist SB203580 or the JNK blocker JNKI1. To study the effect of MAPK inhibition on histamine-induced TH phosphorylation, we generated phospho-specific antibodies against the different phosphorylated forms of TH. Treatment with U0126 totally inhibited the histamine-induced phosphorylation of TH at Ser31, without affecting the phosphorylation of either Ser40 or Ser19. Neither SB203580 nor JNKI1 treatments produced any significant modification of the histamine-induced TH phosphorylation. Our data support the hypothesis that the up-regulation of the ERK1/2 pathway, but not that of p38 or JNK, promoted by histamine is involved in the phosphorylation of TH at Ser31 and that this phosphorylation event is required for the full activation of this enzyme.