Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Deciphering mechanism of conformationally controlled electron transfer in nitric oxide synthases
Electron transfer is a fundamental process in life that is very often coupled to catalysis within redox enzymes through a stringent control of protein conformational movements. Mammalian nitric oxide synthase (NOS) proteins are redox flavo-hemoproteins consisting of multiple modular domains. The NOS enzyme is exquisitely regulated in vivo by its partner, the Ca2+ sensing protein calmodulin (CaM), to control production of nitric oxide (NO). The importance of functional domain motion in NOS regulation has been increasingly recognized. The significant size and flexibility of NOS is a tremendous challenge to the mechanistic studies. Herein recent applications of modern biophysical techniques to NOS problems have been critically analyzed. It is important to note that any current biophysical technique alone can only probe partial aspects of the conformational dynamics due to limitations in the technique itself and/or the sample preparations. It is necessary to combine the latest methods to comprehensively quantitate the key conformational aspects (conformational states and distribution, conformational change rates, and domain interacting interfaces) governing the electron transfer. This is to answer long-standing central questions about the NOS isoforms by defining how specific CaM-NOS interactions and regulatory elements underpin the distinct conformational behavior of the NOS isoform, which in turn determine unique electron transfer and NO synthesis properties. This review is not intended as comprehensive, but as a discussion of prospects that promise impact on important questions in the NOS enzymology field.