Inactivation of nitric oxide by cytochrome c oxidase under steady-state oxygen conditions

David C. Unitt, Veronica S. Hollis, Miriam Palacios-Callender, Nanci Frakich, Salvador Moncada

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We have developed a respiration chamber that allows intact cells to be studied under controlled oxygen (O2) conditions. The system measures the concentrations of O2 and nitric oxide (NO) in the cell suspension, while the redox state of cytochrome c oxidase is continuously monitored optically. Using human embryonic kidney cells transfected with a tetracycline-inducible NO synthase we show that the inactivation of NO by cytochrome c oxidase is dependent on both O2 concentration and electron turnover of the enzyme. At a high O2 concentration (70μM), and while the enzyme is in turnover, NO generated by the NO synthase upon addition of a given concentration of l-arginine is partially inactivated by cytochrome c oxidase and does not affect the redox state of the enzyme or consumption of O2. At low O2 (15 μM), when the cytochrome c oxidase is more reduced, inactivation of NO is decreased. In addition, the NO that is not inactivated inhibits the cytochrome c oxidase, further reducing the enzyme and lowering O2 consumption. At both high and low O2 concentrations the inactivation of NO is decreased when sodium azide is used to inhibit cytochrome c oxidase and decrease electron turnover. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)371-377
    Number of pages6
    JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta. Bioenergetics
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


    • Cytochrome c oxidase
    • Electron turnover
    • Nitric oxide inactivation
    • Redox state
    • Steady-state oxygen


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