An innovative cell-based assay for the detection of modulators of soluble guanylate cyclase

Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2006 Apr;4(2):165-73. doi: 10.1089/adt.2006.4.165.


Guanylate cyclase (GC) catalyzes the biosynthesis of cyclic guanosine 3',5'- monophosphate (cGMP) from GTP. GC exists in two isoenzyme forms: soluble and membrane-bound. The soluble GC (sGC) is a heterodimer composed of an alpha and a beta subunit, and it contains heme as a prosthetic group. The most important physiological activator of sGC is nitric oxide, which activates the enzyme upon binding to the heme moiety. By producing the second messenger cGMP, which regulates various effector systems such as phosphodiesterases, ion channels, and protein kinases, sGC plays an important role in different physiological processes, thus representing a very attractive pharmacological target. In fact, the pathogenesis of several diseases, especially those of the cardiovascular system, has been linked to inappropriate regulation of sGC. In order to find new modulators for this important enzyme, an innovative cell-based assay has been developed and optimized for the use in high-throughput screening. This luminescent assay, which is suitable for both 96- and 384-well plate formats, has been achieved by stably expressing the alpha and beta subunits of a mutated form of sGC in Chinese hamster ovary cells. The mutated form synthesizes cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate instead of cGMP, allowing the detection of enzymatic activity by a reporter gene approach. We demonstrated that this cell line responds to compounds typically used in the field of sGC research and that it represents an innovative and robust assay to screen for sGC modulators with high efficiency and high sensitivity by means of standard luminescence readers.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Assay / methods*
  • CHO Cells / drug effects
  • CHO Cells / enzymology
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Enzyme Activators / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Guanylate Cyclase / metabolism*
  • Luminescent Measurements / methods
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Enzyme Activators
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Guanylate Cyclase
  • Cyclic GMP