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Stimulation of nitric oxide (NO) release from the coronary endothelium facilitates myocardial relaxation via a cGMP-dependent reduction in myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity. Recent evidence suggests that NO released by a neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) in the myocardium can also hasten left ventricular relaxation; however, the mechanism underlying these findings is uncertain. Here we show that both relaxation (TR50) and the rate of [Ca2+]i transient decay (tau) are significantly prolonged in field-stimulated or voltage-clamped left ventricular myocytes from nNOS-/- mice and in wild-type myocytes (nNOS+/+) after acute nNOS inhibition. Disabling the sarcoplasmic reticulum abolished the differences in TR50 and tau, suggesting that impaired sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ reuptake may account for the slower relaxation in nNOS-/- mice. In line with these findings, disruption of nNOS (but not of endothelial NOS) decreased phospholamban phosphorylation (P-Ser16 PLN), whereas nNOS inhibition had no effect on TR50 or tau in PLN-/- myocytes. Inhibition of cGMP signaling had no effect on relaxation in either group whereas protein kinase A inhibition abolished the difference in relaxation and PLN phosphorylation by decreasing P-Ser16 PLN and prolonging TR50 in nNOS+/+ myocytes. Conversely, inhibition of type 1 or 2A protein phosphatases shortened TR50 and increased P-Ser16 PLN in nNOS-/- but not in nNOS+/+ myocytes, in agreement with data showing increased protein phosphatase activity in nNOS-/- hearts. Taken together, our findings identify a novel mechanism by which myocardial nNOS promotes left ventricular relaxation by regulating the protein kinase A-mediated phosphorylation of PLN and the rate of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ reuptake via a cGMP-independent effect on protein phosphatase activity.

Original publication




Journal article


Circ Res

Publication Date





242 - 249


Animals, Calcium-Binding Proteins, Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases, Cyclic GMP, Heart Ventricles, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Muscle Cells, Myocardial Contraction, Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I, Phosphorylation, Sarcoplasmic Reticulum Calcium-Transporting ATPases