Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS, NOS3) is responsible for producing nitric oxide (NO)--a key molecule that can directly (or indirectly) act as a vasodilator and anti-inflammatory mediator. In this review, we examine the structural effects of regulation of the eNOS enzyme, including post-translational modifications and subcellular localization. After production, NO diffuses to surrounding cells with a variety of effects. We focus on the physiological role of NO and NO-derived molecules, including microvascular effects on vessel tone and immune response. Regulation of eNOS and NO action is complicated; we address endogenous and exogenous mechanisms of NO regulation with a discussion of pharmacological agents used in clinical and laboratory settings and a proposed role for eNOS in circulating red blood cells.
Keywords: Endothelial nitric oxide synthase; Endothelium; Microcirculation; Nitric oxide.