Dedifferentiated human ventricular cardiac myocytes express inducible nitric oxide synthase mRNA but not protein in response to IL-1, TNF, IFN(γ), and LPS

Hartmut Luss, Ren Ke Li, Richard A. Shapiro, Edith Tzeng, Francis X. McGowan, Toshie Yoneyama, Kazuyuki Hatakeyama, David A. Geller, Donald A.G. Mickle, Richard L. Simmons, Timothy R. Billiar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


There is evidence that nitric oxide (NO) may mediate some of the functional myocardial changes caused by bacterial LPS and inflammatory cytokines. The expression of the inflammatory or inducible NO synthase (iNOS) in human cardiac myocytes, however, has not been well characterized. Therefore, we treated cultured, dedifferentiated human ventricular cardiac myocytes with the combination of TNF-α (500 U/ml), IL-1β (30 U/ml), IFN(γ) (100 U/ml), and LPS (E.coli 0111:B4, 10 μg/ml). Northern blot analysis revealed a ≃4.5 kb transcript for inducible NOS (iNOS) in the stimulated human heart cells but not in untreated cells. RT-PCR confirmed that iNOS mRNA was only present in stimulated cells. However, treatment of the myocytes for up to 96 h with cytokines and LPS did not result in NO synthesis as measured by nitrite+nitrate accumulation in the culture medium, and no iNOS enzymatic activity could be detected in the cell lysates. Western blot analysis failed to detect iNOS protein. Thus, despite high and persistent levels of iNOS mRNA in cytokine-treated cells, iNOS protein was absent in this experimental model. GTP-cyclohydrolase I was induced both at the mRNA and protein levels and resulted in increased biopterin levels, indicating sufficient amounts of the cofactor tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) were present, and that the failure to express an inducible protein was specific to iNOS. To determine if the absence of iNOS protein was due to a novel cardiac iNOS gene or modified iNOS transcript in human myocytes, we cloned an iNOS cDNA from cytokine-treated myocytes. Sequencing and expression of the clone revealed a functional iNOS cDNA with > 99% identity to other human iNOS cDNA clones. When human cardiac cells were transduced with a retroviral vector carrying only the coding region of the human hepatocyte iNOS cDNA, both iNOS mRNA and protein could be detected. In conclusion, these cells derived from cultured human cardiac myocytes lacked the capacity to express an endogenous iNOS protein, the basis of which appears to be a cell-specific suppression or failure of iNOS translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1153-1165
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac myocytes
  • Messenger RNA
  • Molecular cloning
  • Nitric oxide
  • Translation


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