There are many reports of an arginine-dependent nitric oxide synthase activity in plants; however, the gene(s) or protein(s) responsible for this activity have yet to be convincingly identified. To measure nitric oxide synthase activity, many studies have relied on a citrulline-based assay that measures the formation of l-citrulline from l-arginine using ion exchange chromatography. In this article, we report that when such assays are used with protein extracts from Arabidopsis, an arginine-dependent activity was observed, but it produced a product other than citrulline. TLC analysis identified the product as argininosuccinate. The reaction was stimulated by fumarate (> 500 μm), implicating the urea cycle enzyme argininosuccinate lyase (EC 188.8.131.52), which reversibly converts arginine and fumarate to argininosuccinate. These results indicate that caution is needed when using standard citrulline-based assays to measure nitric oxide synthase activity in plant extracts, and highlight the importance of verifying the identity of the product as citrulline.
- Argininosuccinate lyase
- Nitric oxide