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J Biol Chem. 1999 Sep 24;274(39):27467-73.

PSD-95 assembles a ternary complex with the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor and a bivalent neuronal NO synthase PDZ domain.

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Department of Physiology, and Program in Biomedical Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0444, USA.


Nitric oxide (NO) biosynthesis in cerebellum is preferentially activated by calcium influx through N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptors, suggesting that there is a specific link between these receptors and neuronal NO synthase (nNOS). Here, we find that PSD-95 assembles a postsynaptic protein complex containing nNOS and NMDA receptors. Formation of this complex is mediated by the PDZ domains of PSD-95, which bind to the COOH termini of specific NMDA receptor subunits. In contrast, nNOS is recruited to this complex by a novel PDZ-PDZ interaction in which PSD-95 recognizes an internal motif adjacent to the consensus nNOS PDZ domain. This internal motif is a structured "pseudo-peptide" extension of the nNOS PDZ that interacts with the peptide-binding pocket of PSD-95 PDZ2. This asymmetric interaction leaves the peptide-binding pocket of the nNOS PDZ domain available to interact with additional COOH-terminal PDZ ligands. Accordingly, we find that the nNOS PDZ domain can bind PSD-95 PDZ2 and a COOH-terminal peptide simultaneously. This bivalent nature of the nNOS PDZ domain further expands the scope for assembly of protein networks by PDZ domains.

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