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FEBS Lett. 1995 Aug 7;369(2-3):136-9.

Nitric oxide regulates mitochondrial respiration and cell functions by inhibiting cytochrome oxidase.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, UK.


Nitric oxide (NO) reversibly inhibits mitochondrial respiration by competing with oxygen at cytochrome oxidase. Concentrations of NO measured in a range of biological systems are similar to those shown to inhibit cytochrome oxidase and mitochondrial respiration. Inhibition of NO synthesis results in a stimulation of respiration in a number of systems. It is proposed that NO exerts some of its main physiological and pathological effects on cell functions by inhibiting cytochrome oxidase. Further NO may be a physiological regulator of the affinity of mitochondrial respiration for oxygen, enabling mitochondria to act as sensors of oxygen over the physiological range.

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