Aberrant regulation of eNOS and associated NO release are directly linked with various vascular diseases. Caveolin-1 (Cav-1), the main coat protein of caveolae, is highly expressed in endothelial cells. Its scaffolding domain serves as an endogenous negative regulator of eNOS function. Structure-function analysis of Cav-1 has shown that phenylalanine 92 (F92) is critical for the inhibitory actions of Cav-1 toward eNOS. Herein, we show that F92A–Cav-1 and a mutant cell–permeable scaffolding domain peptide called Cavnoxin can increase basal NO release in eNOS-expressing cells. Cavnoxin reduced vascular tone ex vivo and lowered blood pressure in normal mice. In contrast, similar experiments performed with eNOS- or Cav-1–deficient mice showed that the vasodilatory effect of Cavnoxin is abolished in the absence of these gene products, which indicates a high level of eNOS/Cav-1 specificity. Mechanistically, biochemical assays indicated that noninhibitory F92A–Cav-1 and Cavnoxin specifically disrupted the inhibitory actions of endogenous Cav-1 toward eNOS and thereby enhanced basal NO release. Collectively, these data raise the possibility of studying the inhibitory influence of Cav-1 on eNOS without interfering with the other actions of endogenous Cav-1. They also suggest a therapeutic application for regulating the eNOS/Cav-1 interaction in diseases characterized by decreased NO release.


Pascal Bernatchez, Arpeeta Sharma, Philip M. Bauer, Ethan Marin, William C. Sessa


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