Nitric oxide: comparative synthesis and signaling in animal and plant cells

Trends Plant Sci. 2001 Apr;6(4):177-83. doi: 10.1016/s1360-1385(01)01893-3.


Since its identification as an endothelium-derived relaxing factor in the 1980s, nitric oxide has become the source of intensive and exciting research in animals. Nitric oxide is now considered to be a widespread signaling molecule involved in the regulation of an impressive spectrum of mammalian cellular functions. Its diverse effects have been attributed to an ability to chemically react with dioxygen and its redox forms and with specific iron- and thiol-containing proteins. Moreover, the effects of nitric oxide are dependent on the dynamic regulation of its biosynthetic enzyme nitric oxide synthase. Recently, the role of nitric oxide in plants has received much attention. Plants not only respond to atmospheric nitric oxide, but also possess the capacity to produce nitric oxide enzymatically. Initial investigations into nitric oxide functions suggested that plants use nitric oxide as a signaling molecule via pathways remarkably similar to those found in mammals. These findings complement an emerging body of evidence indicating that many signal transduction pathways are shared between plants and animals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aconitate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism
  • Mammals
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Nitric Oxide / chemistry
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Salicylic Acid / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Aconitate Hydratase
  • Cyclic GMP
  • Salicylic Acid