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Dev Neurobiol. 2007 Mar;67(4):422-37.

Splice-isoform specific immunolocalization of neuronal nitric oxide synthase in mouse and rat brain reveals that the PDZ-complex-building nNOSalpha beta-finger is largely exposed to antibodies.

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Institut für Medizinische Neurobiologie, Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.


Knock out mice deficient for the splice-isoform alphaalpha of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOSalphaalpha) display residual nitric oxide synthase activity and immunosignal. To attribute this signal to the two minor neuronal nitric oxide synthase splice variants, betabeta and gammagamma, we generated isoform-specific anti-peptide antibodies against the nNOSalphaalpha specific betabeta-finger motif involved in PDZ domain scaffolding and the nNOSbetabeta specific N-terminus. The nNOSalphaalpha betabeta-finger-specific antibody clearly recognized the 160-kDa band of recombinant nNOSalphaalpha on Western blots. Using immunocytochemistry, this antibody displayed, in rats and wild-type mice, a labeling pattern similar to but not identical with that obtained using a commercial pan-nNOS antibody. This similarity indicates that the majority of immunocytochemically detectable nNOS is not likely to be complexed with PDZ-domain proteins via the betabeta-finger motif. This conclusion was confirmed by the inhibition of PSD-95/nNOS interaction by the nNOSalphaalpha betabeta-finger antibody in pull-down assays. By contrast, nNOSalphaalpha betabeta-finger labeling was clearly reduced in hippocampal and cortical neuropil areas enriched in NMDA receptor complex containing spine synapses. In nNOSalphaalpha knock out mice, nNOSalphaalpha was not detectable, whereas the pan-nNOS antibody showed a distinct labeling of cell bodies throughout the brain, most likely reflecting betabeta/gammagamma-isoforms in these cells. The nNOSbetabeta antibody clearly detected bacterial expressed nNOSbetabeta fusion protein and nNOSbetabeta in overexpressing HEK cells by Western blotting. Immunocytochemically, individual cell bodies in striatum, cerebral cortex, and in some brain stem nuclei were labeled in knock out but not in wild-type mice, indicating an upregulation of nNOSbetabeta in nNOSalphaalpha deficient animals.

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