Reversible binding of nitric oxide by a salivary heme protein from a bloodsucking insect

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Science  23 Apr 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5107, pp. 539-541
DOI: 10.1126/science.8386393


The bloodsucking bug Rhodnius prolixus has a salivary vasodilator, previously characterized as a nitrovasodilator, with salivary smooth muscle-relaxing and antiplatelet activity. Rhodnius salivary glands are bright red owing to the abundance of heme proteins. Electron paramagnetic resonance and optical spectroscopic experiments indicated that the salivary vasodilator is a nitrosylheme protein with an Fe(III) heme that binds nitric oxide (NO) reversibly. Dilution of the protein in neutral pH promoted NO release. This protein thus appears to be the NO carrier that helps R. prolixus to feed on blood.