Subcellular targeting and trafficking of nitric oxide synthases

Stefanie Oess, Ann Icking, David Fulton, Roland Govers, Werner Müller-Esterl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Unlike most other endogenous messengers that are deposited in vesicles, processed on demand and/or secreted in a regulated fashion, NO (nitric oxide) is a highly active molecule that readily diffuses through cell membranes and thus cannot be stored inside the producing cell. Rather, its signalling capacity must be controlled at the levels of biosynthesis and local availability. The importance of temporal and spatial control of NO production is highlighted by the finding that differential localization of NO synthases in cardiomyocytes translates into distinct effects of NO in the heart. Thus NO synthases belong to the most tightly controlled enzymes, being regulated at transcriptional and translational levels, through co- and post-translational modifications, by substrate availability and not least via specific sorting to subcellular compartments, where they are in close proximity to their target proteins. Considerable efforts have been made to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that underlie the intracellular targeting and trafficking of NO synthases, to ultimately understand the cellular pathways controlling the formation and function of this powerful signalling molecule. In the present review, we discuss the mechanisms and triggers for subcellular routing and dynamic redistribution of NO synthases and the ensuing consequences for NO production and action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 15 2006


  • Acylation cycle
  • Differential activation
  • Intracellular trafficking
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Protein-protein interaction
  • Subcellular targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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