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Nat Chem Biol. 2005 Jun;1(1):53-9. Epub 2005 May 24.

A molecular basis for NO selectivity in soluble guanylate cyclase.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Soluble guanylate cyclases (sGCs) function as heme sensors that selectively bind nitric oxide (NO), triggering reactions essential to animal physiology. Recent discoveries place sGCs in the H-NOX family (heme nitric oxide/oxygen-binding domain), which includes bacterial proteins from aerobic and anaerobic organisms. Some H-NOX proteins tightly bind oxygen (O2), whereas others show no measurable affinity for O2, providing the basis for selective NO signaling in aerobic cells. Using a series of wild-type and mutant H-NOXs, we established a molecular basis for ligand discrimination. A distal pocket tyrosine is requisite for O2 binding in the H-NOX family. These data suggest that sGC uses a kinetic selection against O2; we propose that the O2 dissociation rate in the absence of this tyrosine is fast and that a stable O2 complex does not form.

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