Endothelial nitric oxide synthase: insight into cell-specific gene regulation in the vascular endothelium

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Jan;63(2):144-62. doi: 10.1007/s00018-005-5421-8.


The vascular endothelium plays a crucial role in regulating normal blood vessel physiology. The gene products responsible are commonly expressed exclusively, or preferentially, in this cell type. However, despite the importance of regulated gene expression in the vascular endothelium, relatively little is known about the mechanisms that restrict endothelial-specific gene expression to this cell type. While significant progress has been made towards understanding the regulation of endothelial genes through cis/trans paradigms, it has become apparent that additional mechanisms must also be operative. For example, chromatin-based mechanisms, including cell-specific DNA methylation patterns and post-translational histone modifications, have recently been demonstrated to play important roles in the cell-specific expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). This review investigates the involvement of epigenetic regulatory mechanisms in vascular endothelial cell-specific gene expression using eNOS as a prototypical model, and will address the possible contributions of these pathways to diseases of the vasculature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / physiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Vascular Diseases / genetics
  • Vascular Diseases / physiopathology


  • Chromatin
  • Transcription Factors
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase