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Biological Chemistry

Editor-in-Chief: Brüne, Bernhard

Editorial Board Member: Buchner, Johannes / Ludwig, Stephan / Sies, Helmut / Turk, Boris / Wittinghofer, Alfred

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Nitrosative Stress and Transcription

K.-D. Kröncke

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry. Volume 384, Issue 10-11, Pages 1365–1377, ISSN (Print) 1431-6730, DOI: 10.1515/BC.2003.153, June 2005

Publication History

Published Online:


Low NO concentrations synthesized by constitutively expressed NO synthases act on several signaling pathways activating transcription factors (TF), such as NF-κB or AP-1, and thereby influence gene expression. In contrast, during inflammatory reactions the inducible NO synthase produces NO for prolonged periods of time. The resulting nitrosative stress directly affects redoxsensitive TF like NF-κB, AP-1, Oct-1, c-Myb, or zinc fingercontaining TF, but also additional mechanisms have been identified. Nitrosative stress in some cases induces expression of TF (AP-1, p53), indirectly modulates activity or stability of TF (HIF-1, p53) or their inhibitors (NF-κB), or modulates accessibility of promoters via increased DNA methylation or histone deacetylation. Depending on the promoter the result is induced, increased, decreased or even totally inhibited expression of various target genes. In unstimulated cells nitrosative stress increases NF-κB or AP-1-dependent transcription, while in activated cells nitrosative stress rather abolishes NF-κB or AP-1-dependent transcription. Sometimes the oxygen concentration also is of prime importance, since under normoxic conditions nitrosative stress activates HIF-1-dependent transcription, while under hypoxic conditions nitrosative stress leads to inhibition of HIF-1-dependent transcription. This review summarizes what is known about effects of physiological NO levels as well as of nitrosative stress on transcription.

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