Cloning of rat and human inducible penile nitric oxide synthase. Application for gene therapy of erectile dysfunction

H Garbán, D Marquez, T Magee, J Moody, T Rajavashisth, J A Rodríguez, A Hung, D Vernet, J Rajfer, N F González-Cadavid
Biology of Reproduction 1997, 56 (4): 954-63
Erectile dysfunction is mainly due to the inability of the cavernosal smooth muscle of the penis to undergo complete relaxation. In the aging rat model, erectile dysfunction is accompanied by a reduction of penile smooth muscle compliance and, in very old animals, by a decrease in penile nitric oxide synthase (NOS), which is responsible for the synthesis of the mediator of penile erection, nitric oxide (NO). We have investigated whether the stimulation of penile NOS expression by local induction or gene therapy can mitigate erectile dysfunction in the aged rat. A mix of iNOS (inducible NOS) inducers was continuously delivered to the penises of 5- ("adult"), 20- ("old"), and 30- ("very old") mo-old rats for 3-6 days, and the erectile response to electrical field stimulation of the cavernosal nerve was measured. The erectile dysfunction observed in old and very old rats as compared to adult animals was ameliorated by treatment with iNOS inducers. Penile iNOS was detectable in the penis of these rats by Western blot, NADPH diaphorase, and NOS activity assays. Inducible NOS was inducible in vitro in both rat and human corpora cavernosal tissue and in rat penile smooth muscle cells (RPSMC), as shown by Western blots. However, NO synthesis in cavernosal tissue upon iNOS protein induction remained low, indicating that the increased NOS levels were under physiological control. The iNOS cDNA was cloned from induced RPSMC mRNA and generated by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from induced human penile smooth muscle cells and corporal tissue. The coding regions from both the rat (RPiNOS) and human (HPiNOS) penile iNOS showed several amino acid differences from their analogous isoform in nonpenile tissues. RPiNOS cDNA injected into the penis mitigated the aging-associated erectile dysfunction. The iNOS construct was detected in cavernosal tissue by PCR, and its expression by RT-PCR and Western blots. These results open the way for the possible use of NOS isoforms in the management of erectile dysfunction.

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