Eavesdropping on the behavior of nitric oxide (NO) in parts of the body ranging from the penis to the brain is important to solving the mysteries of how this small molecule plays such a big role in conditions ranging from male sexual function to communication among nerves.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Stephen J. Lippard and Mi Hee Lim, are describing the chemical strategy they used to discover a way to monitor NO as it forms and works inside living cells.
Their report is scheduled for the November 21 issue of the monthly ACS journal, Accounts of Chemical Research.
Catching glimpses of NO at work has eluded scientists since the 1990s, when researchers began uncovering NO's far-ranging roles in regulating blood pressure, immunity, bone mass and other body functions.
Lippard and Lim previously developed a bright fluorescent sensor that illuminates in the presence of NO. Visible under the fluorescent microscope, the sensor will help scientists see where and when NO is produced in cells, and perhaps uncover the chemical signals that trigger production.
The research demonstrates that the sensor technology is an "appropriate and practical" way of detecting NO in living cells, the researchers state. "We anticipate significant advances in this new area in the near future," they add.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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