Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 phosphorylates endothelial nitric oxide synthase at serine 116

Du Hyong Cho, Jungwon Seo, Jung Hyun Park, Chulman Jo, Yoon Jung Choi, Jae Won Soh, Inho Jo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide (NO) production in endothelial cells (EC) is regulated by multisite phosphorylation of specific serine and threonine residues in endothelial NO synthase (eNOS). Among these, eNOS-Ser116 is phosphorylated in the basal state, and its phosphorylation contributes to basal NO production. Here, we investigated the mechanism by which eNOS-Ser116 is phosphorylated during the basal state using bovine aortic EC. Although a previous study suggested that protein kinase C was involved in eNOS-Ser116 phosphorylation, overexpression of various protein kinase C isoforms did not affect eNOS-Ser116 phosphorylation. An in silico analysis using a motif scan revealed that the eNOS-Ser116 residue might be a substrate for proline-directed protein kinases. Roscovitine, a specific inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK), 1, 2, and 5, but not an inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase or glycogen synthase kinase 3β, inhibited eNOS-Ser116 phosphorylation dose dependently. Furthermore, purified CDK1, 2, or 5 directly phosphorylated eNOS-Ser116 in vitro. Ectopic expression of the dominant-negative CDK5 but not dominant-negative CDK1 or dominant-negative CDK2 repressed eNOS-Ser116 phosphorylation and increased NO production. In addition, CDK5 activity was detected in bovine aortic EC, and coimmunoprecipitation and confocal microscopy studies revealed a colocalization of eNOS and CDK5. Cotransfection of CDK5 and p25, the specific CDK5 activator, increased eNOS-Ser116 phosphorylation and decreased NO production, but its parent molecule, p35, and p39, another activator, were not detected in bovine aortic EC, which suggests the existence of a novel CDK5 activator. Overall, this is the first study to find that CDK5 is a physiological kinase responsible for eNOS-Ser116 phosphorylation and regulation of NO production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-352
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Cyclin-dependent kinase 5
  • Endothelial nitric oxide synthase
  • Endothelium
  • Nitric oxide
  • Phosphorylation
  • Signal transduction


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