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J Exp Biol. 2003 Jun;206(Pt 12):2083-7.

The caveolar nitric oxide synthase/arginine regeneration system for NO production in endothelial cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.


The enzyme endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) catalyzes the conversion of arginine, oxygen and NADPH to NO and citrulline. Previous results suggest an efficient, compartmentalized system for recycling of citrulline to arginine utilized for NO production. In support of this hypothesis, the recycling enzymes, argininosuccinate synthase (AS) and argininosuccinate lyase (AL), have been shown to colocalize with eNOS in caveolae, a subcompartment of the plasma membrane. Under unstimulated conditions, the degree of recycling is minimal. Upon stimulation of NO production by bradykinin, however, recycling is co-stimulated to the extent that more than 80% of the citrulline produced is recycled to arginine. These results suggest an efficient caveolar recycling complex that supports the receptor-mediated stimulation of endothelial NO production. To investigate the molecular basis for the unique location and function of endothelial AS and AL, endothelial AS mRNA was compared with liver AS mRNA. No differences were found in the coding region of the mRNA species, but significant differences were found in the 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR). The results of these studies suggest that sequence in the endothelial AS-encoding gene, represented by position -92 nt to -43 nt from the translation start site in the extended AS mRNA 5'-UTRs, plays an important role in differential and tissue-specific expression. Overall, a strong evidential case has been developed supporting the proposal that arginine availability, governed by a caveolar-localized arginine regeneration system, plays a key role in receptor-mediated endothelial NO production.

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