Characterisation of nitric oxide synthase in three cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbioses

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BACKGROUND: Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) is an enzyme catalysing the conversion of L-arginine to L-citrulline and nitric oxide (NO), the latter being an essential messenger molecule for a range of biological processes. Whilst its role in higher vertebrates is well understood little is known about the role of this enzyme in early metazoan groups. For instance, NOS-mediated signalling has been associated with Cnidaria-algal symbioses, however controversy remains about the contribution of enzyme activities by the individual partners of these mutualistic relationships.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using a modified citrulline assay we successfully measured NOS activity in three cnidarian-algal symbioses: the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida, the hard coral Acropora millepora, and the soft coral Lobophytum pauciflorum, so demonstrating a wide distribution of this enzyme in the phylum Cnidaria. Further biochemical (citrulline assay) and histochemical (NADPH-diaphorase) investigations of NOS in the host tissue of L. pauciflorum revealed the cytosolic and calcium dependent nature of this enzyme and its in situ localisation within the coral's gastrodermal tissue, the innermost layer of the body wall bearing the symbiotic algae. Interestingly, enzyme activity could not be detected in symbionts freshly isolated from the cnidarians, or in cultured algal symbionts.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These results suggest that NOS-mediated NO release may be host-derived, a finding that has the potential to further refine our understanding of signalling events in cnidarian-algal symbioses.

TidsskriftPLoS ONE
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)e10379
StatusUdgivet - 28 apr. 2010
Eksternt udgivetJa

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