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We have reported that heme-dependent activation of apo-neuronal nitric oxide synthase (apo-nNOS) to the active holo-enzyme dimer is dependent upon factors present in reticulocyte lysate and other cytosols. Here, we find that both Hsp70 and thioredoxin are components of the activation system. The apo-nNOS activating activity of reticulocyte lysate is retained in a pool of fractions containing Hsp70 that elute from DE52 prior to Hsp90. All of the activating activity and 20-30% of the Hsp70 elute in the flow-through fraction upon subsequent ATP-agarose chromatography. Apo-nNOS activation by this flow-through fraction is inhibited by pifithrin-μ, a small molecule inhibitor of Hsp70, suggesting that a non-ATP-binding form of Hsp70 is involved in heme-dependent apo-nNOS activation. Previous work has shown that apo-nNOS can be activated by thiol-disulfide exchange, and we show substantial activation with a small molecule dithiol modeled on the active motifs of thioredoxin and protein disulfide isomerase. Further fractionation of the ATP-agarose flow-through on Sephacryl S-300 separates free thioredoxin from apo-nNOS activating activity, Hsp70, and a small amount of thioredoxin, all of which are eluted throughout the macromolecular peak. Incubation of apo-nNOS with the macromolecular fraction in combination either with the thioredoxin-containing fraction or with purified recombinant human thioredoxin restores full heme-dependent activating activity. This supports a model in which Hsp70 binding to apo-nNOS stabilizes an open state of the heme/substrate binding cleft to facilitate thioredoxin access to the active site cysteine that coordinates with heme iron, permitting heme binding and dimerization to the active enzyme. © 2011 American Chemical Society


Yoshihiro Morishima, Miranda Lau, Hwei-Ming Peng, Yoshinari Miyata, Jason E Gestwicki, William B Pratt, Yoichi Osawa. Heme-dependent activation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase by cytosol is due to an Hsp70-dependent, thioredoxin-mediated thiol-disulfide interchange in the heme/substrate binding cleft. Biochemistry. 2011 Aug 23;50(33):7146-56

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PMID: 21755988

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