Nitric oxide (NO) is a key molecule mediating physiological and pathophysiological processes in mammals, many of which involve the vascular system. Many physiological actions of NO are mediated by cyclic GMP, and both NO and cyclic GMP have relatively short durations of action. NO is labile and is not stored, released, or inactivated by conventional mechanisms. Reactivity of NO with reactive oxygen species and with iron and sulfur containing molecules causes rapid inactivation of NO. Cyclic GMP is also unstable due to hydrolysis by specific phosphodiesterases. Thus, NO is rapidly inactivated by naturally-occurring chemical processes and cyclic GMP is rapidly inactivated by phosphodiesterases in cells, yielding half lives for each of less than 1-second. Therefore, the actions of NO are highly dependent on its biosynthesis from L-arginine by NO synthase (NOS). Accordingly, the regulation or modulation of NO biosynthesis is the most important process dictating the pharmacodynamics of NO. The principal objective of the proposed studies is to elucidate several potentially novel mechanisms by which NO biosynthesis may be controlled. These targeted mechanisms involve changes in NOS mRNA expression, NOS protein expression and stability, arginase expression and catalytic activity, arginine substrate availability, and the production of reactive oxygen species by NOS. The central hypothesis to be tested is that cellular NO production is tightly regulated by various endogenous factors affecting transcriptional, translational and posttranslational expression of NOS isoforms.
Three Specific Aims are proposed to achieve this objective: (1) to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which NO downregulates the expression of inducible NOS (iNOS) and endothelial NOS (eNOS); (2) to elucidate the mechanisms by which arginase upregulates the expression of iNOS and eNOS; and (3) to elucidate the role of arginase in modulating the production of superoxide anion and hydrogen peroxide by iNOS and eNOS. The proposed research represents a continuing long-term effort to elucidate the biological factors influencing the vascular and related actions of NO in health and disease.
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