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J Biol Chem. 1996 May 10;271(19):11204-8.

Neuronal nitric-oxide synthase-mu, an alternatively spliced isoform expressed in differentiated skeletal muscle.

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Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine 94143-0444, USA.


Nitric oxide (NO) functions as a molecular mediator in numerous processes in cellular development and physiology. Differential expression and regulation of a family of three NO synthase (NOS) gene products help achieve this diversity of action. Previous studies identify post-translational modification and interaction of NOS with specific protein targets as tissue-specific modes of regulation. Here, we show that alternative splicing specifically regulates neuronal NOS (nNOS, type I) in striated muscle. nNOS in skeletal muscle is slightly more massive than nNOS from brain owing to a 102-base pair (34-amino acid) alternatively spliced segment between exons 16 and 17. Following purification, this novel nNOS mu isoform has similar catalytic activity to that of nNOS expressed in cerebellum. nNOS mu appears to function exclusively in differentiated muscle as its expression occurs coincidentally with myotube fusion in culture. An isoform-specific antibody detects nNOS mu protein only in skeletal muscle and heart. This study identifies alternative splicing as a means for tissue-specific regulation of nNOS and reports the first additional protein sequence for a mammalian NOS since the original cloning of the gene family.

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