Intra-subunit and inter-subunit electron transfer in neuronal nitric-oxide synthase - Effect of calmodulin on heterodimer catalysis

I Sagami, S Daff, T Shimizu

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In neuronal nitric-oxide synthase (nNOS), calmodulin (CaM) binding is thought to trigger electron transfer from the reductase domain to the heme domain, which is essential for O-2 activation and NO formation. To elucidate the electron-transfer mechanism, we characterized a series of heterodimers consisting of one full-length nNOS subunit and one oxygenase-domain subunit. The results support aft inter-subunit electron-transfer mechanism for the wild type nNOS, in that electrons for catalysis transfer in a Ca2+/CaM-dependent way from the reductase domain of one subunit to the heme of the other subunit, as proposed for inducible NOS. This suggests that the two different isoforms form similar dimeric complexes. In a series of heterodimers containing a Ca2+/CaM-insensitive mutant (delta40), electrons transferred from the reductase domain to both hemes in a Ca2+/CaM-independent way. Thus, in the delta40 mutant electron transfer from the reductase domains to the heme domains can occur via both inter-subunit and intra-subunit mechanisms. However, NO formation activity was exclusively linked to inter-subunit electron transfer and was observed only in the presence of Ca2+/CaM. This suggests that the mechanism of activation of nNOS hy CaM is not solely dependent on the activation of electron transfer to the nNOS hemes but may involve additional structural factors linked to the catalytic action of the heme domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30036-30042
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2001


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