Substrate- and isoform-specific dioxygen complexes of nitric oxide synthase

David Li, Mariam Kabir, Dennis J. Stuehr, Denis L. Rousseau, Syun Ru Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) catalyzes the formation of NO via a consecutive two-step reaction. In the first step, L-arginine (Arg) is converted to N-hydroxy-L-arginine (NOHA). In the second step, NOHA is further converted to citrulline and nitric oxide (NO). To assess the mechanistic differences between the two steps of the reaction, we have used resonance Raman spectroscopy combined with a homemade continuous-flow rapid solution mixer to study the structural properties of the metastable dioxygen-bound complexes of the oxygenase domain of inducible NOS (iNOSoxy). We identified the O-O stretching frequency of the substrate-free enzyme at 1133 cm-1. This frequency is insensitive to the presence of tetrahydrobiopterin, but it shifts to 1126 cm-1 upon binding of Arg, which we attribute to H-bonding interactions to the terminal oxygen atom of the heme iron-bound dioxygen. In contrast, the addition of NOHA to the enzyme did not bring about a shift in the frequency of the O-O stretching mode, because, unlike Arg, there is no H-bond associated with the terminal oxygen atom of the dioxygen. The substrate-specific H-bonding interactions play a critical role in determining the fate of the key peroxy intermediate. In the first step of the reaction, the H-bonds facilitate the rupture of the O-O bond, leading to the formation of the active ferryl species, which is essential for the oxidation of the Arg. On the other hand, in the second step of the reaction, the absence of the H-bonds prevents the premature O-O bond cleavage, such that the peroxy intermediate can perform a nucleophilic addition reaction to the substrate, NOHA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6943-6951
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 30 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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