Nitric oxide synthase in skeletal muscle fibers: a signaling component of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex


  • Zarko Grozdanovic
  • H. G. Baumgarten


nitric oxide synthase, nitric oxide, skeletal muscle, dystrophin, muscular dystrophy


The present review deals with the anatomical distribution, physiological importance, and pathological implications of the neuronal-type nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) in skeletal muscle. Throughout the body, nNOS is located beneath the sarcolemma of skeletal muscle fibers. In rodents, nNOS is enriched in type IIb muscle fibers, but is more homogenously distributed among type I1 and type I fibers in humans and subhuman primates. It is accumulated on the postsynaptic membrane at the neuromuscular junction. An increased concentration of nNOS is noted at the sarcolemma of muscle spindle fibers, in particular nuclear bag fibers, which belong to type I fibers. The association of nNOS with the sarcolemma is mediated by the dystrophin-g1 ycoprotein complex. Specifically, nNOS is linked to al-syntrophin through PDZ domain interactions. Possibly, it also directly binds to dystrophin. The activity and expression of nNOS are regulated by both myogenic and neurogenic factors. Besides acetylcholine, glutamate has also been shown to stimulate nNOS, probably acting through Nmethyl- D-aspartate receptors, which are colocalized with nNOS at the junctional sarcolemma. Functional studies have implicated nitric oxide as a modulator of skeletal muscle contractility, mitochondrial respiration, carbohydrate metabolism, and neuromuscular transmission. A clinically relevant aspect of nNOS is its absence from the skeletal muscle sarcolemma of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). A concept is presented which suggests that, as a consequence of the disruption of the dystrophin-glyoprotein complex in DMD, nNOS fails to become attached to the sarcolemma and is subject to downregulation in the cytosol.




Invited Reviews