Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Nat Chem Biol. 2005 Oct;1(5):290-7. Epub 2005 Sep 18.

Nitrite is a signaling molecule and regulator of gene expression in mammalian tissues.

Author information

  • 1Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


Mammalian tissues produce nitric oxide (NO) to modify proteins at heme and sulfhydryl sites, thereby regulating vital cell functions. The majority of NO produced is widely assumed to be neutralized into supposedly inert oxidation products including nitrite (NO2(-)). Here we show that nitrite, also ubiquitous in dietary sources, is remarkably efficient at modifying the same protein sites, and that physiological nitrite concentrations account for the basal levels of these modifications in vivo. We further find that nitrite readily affects cyclic GMP production, cytochrome P450 activities, and heat shock protein 70 and heme oxygenase-1 expression in a variety of tissues. These cellular activities of nitrite, combined with its stability and abundance in vivo, suggest that this anion has a distinct and important signaling role in mammalian biology, perhaps by serving as an endocrine messenger and synchronizing agent. Thus, nitrite homeostasis may be of great importance to NO biology.

Comment in

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group
    Loading ...
    Support Center