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S-nitrosylation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase impacts erectile function


Neuronal and endothelial nitric oxide synthases (nNOS and eNOS respectively) play major roles in generating the nitric oxide bioactivity necessary for erectile function. S-nitrosylation has been shown to regulate NOS activity. The presence of S-nitrosylated NOS in the penis and the impact of NOS S-nitrosylation/denitrosylation on erectile function were examined. S-nitrosylated forms of NOS were identified by biotin-switch assay followed by western blot analysis. Erectile function in S-nitrosoglutathione reductase deficient (GSNO+/−) and null (GSNO−/−) mice were assessed by continuous cavernous nerve electrical stimulation (CCNES). Glutathione ethyl ester (GSHee) was used to manipulate S-nitrosylated NOS levels. Immunohistological and immunofluorescence analyses were used to identify the location of eNOS and GSNO-R in corporal tissue. eNOS and nNOS were S-nitrosylated in unstimulated penises of the mice. CCNES resulted in a time-dependent increase in eNOS S-nitrosylation with peak eNOS S-nitrosylation observed during detumescence. S-nitrosylated nNOS levels were unchanged. Intracorporal injection of GSHee reduced S-nitrosylated eNOS levels, enhancing time to maximum intracorporal pressure (ICP). eNOS and GSNO-R co-localize to the endothelium of the corpus cavernosum in the mouse and the human. ICP measurements obtained during CCNES demonstrate GSNO-R+/− and GSNO-R−/− animals cannot maintain an elevated ICP. Results suggest eNOS S-nitrosylation/denitrosylation is an important mechanism regulating eNOS activity during erectile function. GSNO-R is a key enzyme involved in the eNOS denitrosylation. The increase in eNOS S-nitrosylation (inactivation) observed with tumescence may begin a cycle leading to detumescence. Clinically this may indicate that alterations in the balance of S-nitrosylation/denitrosylation either directly or indirectly contribute to erectile dysfunction.

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This project was supported in whole or in part by a gift provided to the University of Virginia by Philip Morris USA. The review and approval process was overseen by an External Advisory Committee without any affiliation with the University, PM USA, or any other tobacco company.

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Correspondence to Ryan P. Smith.

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Kavoussi, P.K., Smith, R.P., Oliver, J.L. et al. S-nitrosylation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase impacts erectile function. Int J Impot Res 31, 31–38 (2019).

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