New Sensor Detects Nitrate And Nitrite Physiological Levels

First Posted: Dec 09, 2015 12:25 PM EST

A team of researchers have created a new sensor called 'sNOOOpy' that can detect the physiological levels of nitrate and nitrite, according to a study at the Tohoku University.

The researchers created a new technique that visualizes the dynamics of nitrate (NO3-) and nitrite (NO2-), which are the markers of nitric oxide in a cell. In the body, nitric oxide acts as an essential second messenger, where it plays a role in neurotransmission, vascular homeostasis and host defense, according to the study.

"sNOOOpy is simple and potentially applicable to a wide variety of living cells. It is expected to provide insights into NO3-/NO2- dynamics in various organisms, including plants and animals," the researchers wrote in a news release.

The researchers' new technology sNOOOpy stands for "sensor for NO3-/NO2- in physiology." sNOOOpy is a genetically encoded intermolecular fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based indicator that senses and determines the levels of nitrate and nitrite.

The new technology uses the NO3-/NO2- responsive two-component system of NasS and NasT system found in the root nodule bacterium Bradyhizobium japonicum. A nodule is the swelling of cells in the body, mostly abnormal one. Root nodule is the swelling of a leguminous plant, which contains nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

The researchers used vitro and cell culture studies, which demonstrated that sNOOOpy can monitor intracellular levels in the micromolar range of nitrate and nitrite in a timely manner. The researchers believe that sNOOOpy can be effective in the creation of new drugs and can facilitate in agricultural research.

The findings of this study were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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