NO does not rapidly react with most biological molecules. However, the effects of NO can be mediated through the formation of reactive nitrogen oxide species from reactions of NO with either 02or 02'"(34). Three types of reactions can occur: i) nitrosative reactions, adding the equivalent of NO+ to an amino, thiol, or hydroxy aromatic group; ii) oxidative reactions, the removal of 1 or 2 electrons from a substrate or a hydroxylation reaction; and iii) nitration reactions, the addition of an equivalent of an N02+ to an aromatic group.
N02, N203 and N204 can nitrosate sulfhydryl and tyrosine groups and oxidize substrates. In aqueous solution, N203 hydrolyzes to nitrite (Equations 12, 13, and 14) and is capable of the oxidation of redox-active complexes.
The primary reaction of N203 is nitrosation. Nitrosation of amines results in the formation of nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic and have deleterious consequences. Nitrosation of thiols results in the formation of nitrosothiols. On the other hand, nitrosation of thiols has been shown to have a variety of effects from inhibiting enzyme action to modifying signal transduction (34).
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