Genetic analysis of nitric oxide synthase isoforms: targeted mutation in mice

J Mol Med (Berl). 1996 Aug;74(8):415-21. doi: 10.1007/BF00217517.


Since the discovery that nitric oxide is an endogenous vasodilator responsible for endothelium-derived relaxing factor activity, nitric oxide has been found in many different cell types and implicated in many diverse biological processes. Because pharmacological blockade does not distinguish between the three major isoforms of nitric oxide synthase, the tissue and enzyme source of nitric oxide is unclear in many situations. Targeted disruption of the genes for the various isoforms of nitric oxide synthase offers a useful genetic approach to study the roles of each isoform and to examine the effects of their deletion on physiological processes in intact animals. Here we review the phenotypes of the various nitric oxide synthase mutant mice and examine what they reveal about the complexities of the nitric oxide signaling system and about molecular and physiological compensations brought into play in the absence of individual isoforms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Endothelium / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Ischemia / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / chemistry*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / genetics*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase