Regulation of heme oxygenase-1 gene expression in vascular smooth muscle cells by nitric oxide

Cynthia L. Hartsfield, Jawed Alam, Julia L. Cook, Augustine M.K. Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations


Heme oxygenase (HO)-mediated heme degradation is the primary mechanism for production of cellular carbon monoxide (CO). Analogous to nitric oxide (NO), CO mediates physiological and cellular functions such as vasodilatation, stimulation of guanylate cyclase, and neuronal transmission. In view of accumulating data demonstrating a correlation between the activity of these two gaseous molecules and that the predominant source of CO is via HO catalysis, we hypothesized that NO regulates HO expression. We demonstrate that the NO donor spermine NONOate (SNN) increases steady-state levels of HO- 1 mRNA in aortic vascular smooth muscle cells (aSMC) in both a time- and dose-dependent manner. The accumulation of HO-1 mRNA that correlated with increased HO-1 protein synthesis resulted from both an increased rate of gene transcription and a decreased rate of mRNA turnover. Inhibition of the NO- induced HO-1 mRNA expression by cycloheximide suggests that new protein synthesis is required for increased HO-1 gene expression. Induction of HO-1 expression by SNN occurs in a guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP)- independent manner because exposure of cells to 8-bromoguanosine 3',5'- cyclic monophosphate, a cGMP analog, did not increase HO-1 mRNA levels, and pretreatment of cells with 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one, a selective guanylate cyclase inhibitor, did not prevent SNN-induced HO-1 mRNA accumulation. The antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine markedly inhibited SNN- induced HO-1 mRNA expression, whereas peroxynitrite did not induce HO-1 expression in aSMC. Interestingly, CO did not attenuate NO-induced HO-1 expression through an autocrine negative feedback mechanism as had been observed for hypoxia-induced HO-1 expression. These data provide evidence for an important regulatory network between NO and CO via HO-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L980-L988
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number5 17-5
StatePublished - 1997


  • Carbon monoxide
  • Guanylate cyclase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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