The fatty-acylation-deficient bovine endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) mutant (Gly-2 to Ala-2, G2AeNOS) was purified from a baculovirus overexpression system. The purified protein was soluble and highly active (0.2-0.7 μmol of l-citrulline· mg-1·min-1), contained 0.77±0.01 equivalent of haem per subunit, showed a Soret maximum at 396 nm, and exhibited only minor uncoupling of NADPH oxidation in the absence of l-arginine or tetrahydrobiopterin. Radioligand binding studies revealed KD values of 147±24.1 nM and 52±9.2 nM for specific binding of tetrahydrobiopterin in the absence and presence of 0.1 mM l-arginine respectively. The positive co-operative effect of l-arginine was due to a pronounced decrease in the rate of tetrahydrobiopterin dissociation (from 1.6±0.5 to 0.3±0.1 min-1). Low-temperature SDS gel electrophoresis showed that approx. 80% of the protein migrated as haem-containing dimer after preincubation with l-arginine and tetrahydrobiopterin. Gel-filtration chromatography yielded one peak with a Stokes radius of 6.8±0.04 nm, corresponding to a hydrodynamic volume of 1.32×10-24 m3, whereas haem-deficient preparations (approx. 0.3 equivalent per subunit) contained an additional protein species with a hydrodynamic radius of 5.1±0.2 nm and a corresponding volume of 0.55×10-24 m3, suggesting that haem availability regulates eNOS dimerization.

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