The role of NO synthases in arginine-dependent small intestinal and colonic carcinogenesis

Hagit F. Yerushalmi, David G. Besselsen, Natalia A. Ignatenko, Karen A. Blohm-Mangone, Jose L. Padilla-Torres, David E. Stringer, Haiyan Cui, Hana Holubec, Claire M. Payne, Eugene W. Gerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Arginine is catabolized by NOS2 and other nitric oxide synthases to form nitric oxide. We evaluated the roles of dietary arginine and Nos2 in Apc-dependent intestinal tumorigenesis in Min mice with and without a functional Nos2 gene. NOS2 protein was expressed only in intestinal tissues of Apc Min/+ Nos2+/+ mice. NOS3 expression was higher in intestinal tissues of mice lacking Nos2, mainly in the small intestine. When diet was supplemented with arginine (0.2% and 2% in drinking water), lack of Nos2 results in decreased tumorigenesis in both small intestine and colon. In Nos2 knockout mice, supplemental arginine (up to 2%) caused a decrease in small intestinal tumor number and size. The arginine-dependent decrease was associated with an increase in nitrotyrosine formation and apoptosis in the region of intestinal stem cells. Mice expressing Nos2 did not show these changes. These mice did, however, show an arginine-dependent increase in colon tumor number and incidence, while no effect on apoptosis was seen. These changes were associated with increased nitrotyrosine formation in epithelial cells. Mice lacking Nos2 did not show changes in tumorigenesis or nitrotyrosine formation, while demonstrating an arginine-dependent increase in apoptosis. These data suggest that Nos2 and dietary arginine have significant effects on intestinal and colonic tumorigenesis in Min mice. In both tissues, loss of Nos2 is associated with decreased tumorigenesis when mice are supplemented with dietary arginine. In the small intestine, Nos2 prevents the arginine-induced decrease in tumor number and size, which is associated with NOS3 expression and increased apoptosis. In the colon, Nos2 is required for the arginine-induced increase in tumor number and incidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Carcinogenesis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Arginine
  • Min mice
  • Nos2
  • Nos3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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