Research NewsStructural Biology

Biologists Catch Their First Detailed Look at NO Enzyme

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Science  17 Oct 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5337, pp. 389
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5337.389

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Nitric oxide helps cement memories, control blood pressure, and battle disease, but it has also been implicated in ailments as varied as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and impotence. The key to this character switch is an enzyme called a nitric oxide synthase (NOS), which makes NO inside the body. Now researchers have gotten their first detailed look at this crucial enzyme's key section: the catalytic site at which NO is produced. On page 425 of this issue, researchers report determining the three-dimensional structure of NOS's active site, bound to substances known to inhibit its catalytic action. This could help researchers design drugs to dampen NO production in diseases linked to excess NO.