Higher-order interactions bridge the nitric oxide receptor and catalytic domains of soluble guanylate cyclase

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 23;110(17):6777-82. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1301934110. Epub 2013 Apr 9.


Nitric oxide (NO) signaling pathways mediate diverse physiological functions, including vasodilation and neurotransmission. Soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC), the primary NO receptor, triggers downstream signaling cascades by producing the second messenger cGMP. NO binds the sGC heme cofactor to stimulate cyclase activity, yet the molecular mechanisms of cyclase activation remain obscure. Although structural models of the individual sGC domains are available, the structure of the full sGC heterodimer is unknown. Understanding the higher-order domain architecture of sGC is a prerequisite to elucidating the mechanisms of NO activation. We used protein footprinting to map interdomain interaction surfaces of the sGC signaling domains. Hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry revealed direct interactions between the Per/Arnt/Sim domain and the heme-associated signaling helix of the heme-NO/O2 binding (H-NOX) domain. Furthermore, interfaces between the H-NOX and catalytic domains were mapped using domain truncations and full-length sGC. The H-NOX domain buries surfaces of the α1 catalytic domain proximal to the cyclase active site, suggesting a signaling mechanism involving NO-induced derepression of catalytic activity. Together, our data reveal interdomain interactions responsible for communicating NO occupancy from H-NOX heme to the catalytic domain active site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism
  • Deuterium Exchange Measurement
  • Guanylate Cyclase / chemistry*
  • Guanylate Cyclase / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase


  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Guanylate Cyclase
  • Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase
  • Cyclic GMP