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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Aug 20;99(17):11127-32. Epub 2002 Aug 12.

Focusing of nitric oxide mediated nitrosation and oxidative nitrosylation as a consequence of reaction with superoxide.

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Radiation Biology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The impact of nitric oxide (NO) synthesis on different biological cascades can rapidly change dependent on the rate of NO formation and composition of the surrounding milieu. With this perspective, we used diaminonaphthalene (DAN) and diaminofluorescein (DAF) to examine the nitrosative chemistry derived from NO and superoxide (O2-) simultaneously generated at nanomolar to low micromolar per minute rates by spermine/NO decomposition and xanthine oxidase-catalyzed oxidation of hypoxanthine, respectively. Fluorescent triazole product formation from DAN and DAF increased as the ratio of O2- to NO approached equimolar, then decreased precipitously as O2- exceeded NO. This pattern was also evident in DAF-loaded MCF-7 carcinoma cells and when stimulated macrophages were used as the NO source. Cyclic voltammetry analysis and inhibition studies by using the N2O3 scavenger azide indicated that DAN- and DAF-triazole could be derived from both oxidative nitrosylation (e.g., DAF radical + NO) and nitrosation (NO+ addition). The latter mechanism predominated with higher rates of NO formation relative to O2-. The effects of oxymyoglobin, superoxide dismutase, and carbon dioxide were examined as potential modulators of reactant availability for the O2- + NO pathway in vivo. The findings suggest that the outcome of NO biosynthesis in a scavenger milieu can be focused by O2- toward formation of NO adducts on nucleophilic residues (e.g., amines, thiols, hydroxyl) through convergent mechanisms involving the intermediacy of nitrogen dioxide. These modifications may be favored in microenvironments where the rate of O2- production is temporally and spatially contemporaneous with nitric oxide synthase activity, but not in excess of NO generation.

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