Indexed on: 09 May '08Published on: 09 May '08Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry
Nitric oxide (NO) exerts physiological effects by activating specialized receptors that are coupled to guanylyl cyclase activity, resulting in cGMP synthesis from GTP. Despite its widespread importance as a signal transduction pathway, the way it operates is still understood only in descriptive terms. The present work aimed to elucidate a formal mechanism for NO receptor activation and its modulation by GTP, ATP, and allosteric agents, such as YC-1 and BAY 41-2272. The model comprised a module in which NO, the nucleotides, and allosteric agents bind and the protein undergoes a conformational change, dovetailing with a catalytic module where GTP is converted to cGMP and pyrophosphate. Experiments on NO-activated guanylyl cyclase purified from bovine lung allowed values for all of the binding and isomerization constants to be derived. The catalytic module was a modified version of one describing the kinetics of adenylyl cyclase. The resulting enzyme-linked receptor mechanism faithfully reproduces all of the main functional properties of NO-activated guanylyl cyclase reported to date and provides a thermodynamically sound interpretation of those properties. With appropriate modification, it also replicates activation by carbon monoxide and the remarkable enhancement of that activity brought about by the allosteric agents. In addition, the mechanism enhances understanding of the behavior of the receptor in a cellular setting.