Nitric oxide-dependent penile erection in mice lacking neuronal nitric oxide synthase

Arthur L. Burnett, Randy J. Nelson, David C. Calvin, Jian Xiang Liu, Gregory E. Demas, Sabra L. Klein, Lance J. Kriegsfeld, Valina L. Dawson, Ted M. Dawson, Solomon H. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Background: Nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated as a mediator of penile erection, because the neuronal isoform of NO synthase (NOS) is localized to the penile innervation and NOS inhibitors selectively block erections. NO can also be formed by two other NOS isoforms derived from distinct genes, inducible NOS (iNOS) and endothelial NOS (eNOS). To clarify the source of NO in penile function. We have examined mice with targeted deletion of the nNOS gene (nNOS mice). Materials and Methods: Mating behavior, electrophysiologically induced penile erection, isolated erectile tissue isometric tension, and eNOS localization by immunohistochemistry and Western blot were performed on nNOS mice and wild-type controls. Results: Both intact animal penile erections and isolated erectile tissue function are maintained in nNOS mice, in agreement with demonstrated normal sexual behaviors, but is stereospecifically blocked by the NOS inhibitor. L- nitroarginine methyl ester (L-NAME). cNOS is abundantly present in endothelium of penile vasculature and sinusoidal endothelium within the corpora cavernosa, with levels that are significantly higher in iNOS mice than in wild-type controls. Conclusions. eNOS mediates NO-dependent penile erection in nNOS animals and normal penile erection. These data clarify the role of nitric oxide in penile erection and may have implications for therapeutic agents with selective effects on NOS isoforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-296
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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