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Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Nov;84(2):157-78.

Pharmacological modulation of nitric oxide synthesis by mechanism-based inactivators and related inhibitors.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway 08854, USA.


Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) (EC is a homodimeric cytochrome P450 monooxygenase analog that generates nitric oxide (NO) from the amino acid L-arginine. Enzymatically produced NO acts as an intracellular messenger in neuronal networks, blood pressure regulatory mechanisms, and immune responses. Isoform-selective pharmacological modulation of NO synthesis has emerged as a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of diverse clinical conditions associated with NO overproduction. Mechanism-based inactivators (MBIs) represent a class of NOS mechanistic inhibitors that require catalytic turnover to produce irreversible inactivation of the ability of NOS to generate NO. Diverse isoform-selective NOS MBIs have been characterized with respect to their kinetic parameters and chemical mechanisms of inactivation. In studies with isolated and purified NOS isoforms, MBIs produce irreversible inactivation of NOS enzymatic activities. The inactivation process is associated with covalent modification of the NOS active site and proceeds either through heme destruction, its structural alteration, or covalent modification of the NOS protein chain. The behavior of NOS MBIs in intact cells is different from their behavior observed with the isolated NOS isoforms. In cytokine-induced RAW 264.7 macrophages, treatment with MBIs produces a complete loss of cellular NOS synthetic competence and inducible NOS activity. However, following drug removal, cells can recover at least partially in the absence of protein synthesis. In GH3 cells containing the neuronal NOS isoform, calcium transients are too low and abbreviated to allow significant NOS inactivation; hence, the cellular effects of MBIs on the neuronal isoform are almost completely and immediately reversible.

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