IMR Press / FBL / Volume 8 / Issue 4 / DOI: 10.2741/959

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 as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Nitric oxide synthases: domain structure and alignment in enzyme function and control
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1 Department of Medicine, Duke University and VA Medical Center, Durham, NC 27705, USA
2 Biology Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2003, 8(4), 193–209;
Published: 1 January 2003

Nitric Oxide Synthases are a family of enzymes that produce NO from arginine, oxygen and reducing power in the form of NADPH; they function as signal generators and as producers of cytotoxic levels of NO (e.g., in immune defense). Evolution of eukaryotic NOS from prokaryotic antecedents involved a series of gene fusion events, producing a modular enzyme, and the concomitant development of sophisticated control mechanisms that are isoform specific and tailored to the role of enzymes in signal transduction or immune response. Recent information on the structures of NOS isoforms at all levels from primary amino acid sequence to high resolution crystallography allows a deepening understanding of many aspects of these important proteins including interdomain interactions, dimerization, cofactor, substrate, and isoform specific inhibitor binding as well catalysis and control. The details of the NOS reaction mechanism and its control through the regulation of electron transfer by CaM binding and other mechanisms are still being elucidated and are well worth further examination. The alignment of the molecular surfaces of the independently folded domains is a central feature of structure, catalysis and control in these important enzymes, and will be the focus of the present review.

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