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J Biol Chem. 2008 Oct 24;283(43):28827-34. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M801646200. Epub 2008 Aug 27.

Signaling-mediated functional activation of inducible nitric-oxide synthase and its role in stimulating platelet activation.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Nitric oxide (NO) is a short lived secondary messenger, synthesized by nitric-oxide synthases (NOS). It is believed that the activity of inducible NOS (iNOS) is regulated primarily at the transcription level by inducing expression of iNOS mRNA and protein, which then continuously produces NO, until its degradation. Platelets do not have the nuclear transcriptional regulatory mechanisms of the iNOS gene and are believed to generate NO in response to agonist stimulation via endothelial NOS (eNOS). However, here we show that agonist-induced NO production is only partially eNOS-dependent and is also mediated by iNOS. Platelet agonist-induced NO production is significantly reduced in iNOS-knockout platelets. Platelet NO production occurs within seconds after agonist addition and is not accompanied by changes in iNOS protein levels, indicating a signaling-mediated functional activation mechanism of iNOS. Importantly, iNOS knock-out and iNOS inhibitors reduce agonist-induced platelet secretion and aggregation and cGMP levels, indicating that iNOS activation is important in stimulating platelets via the newly identified NO-cGMP-dependent platelet secretion pathway. Furthermore, iNOS knock-out mice have prolonged bleeding time, suggesting that this novel mode of regulation of iNOS activity plays a physiologically relevant role in hemostasis.

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