Maturation of NOS enzymes requires that they incorporate heme to become active, but how this cellular process occurs is unclear. We investigated a role for chaperone heat shock protein 90 (hsp90) in enabling heme insertion into the cytokine-inducible mouse NOS. We used macrophage cell line RAW 264.7 and human embryonic kidney HEK293T cells and studied insertion of native heme during iNOS expression and insertion of exogenous heme into preformed apo-iNOS. Pulldown experiments showed that the hsp90-iNOS complex was present in cells, but the extent of their association was inversely related to iNOS heme content. Hsp90 was primarily associated with apo-iNOS monomer and was associated 11-fold less with heme-containing iNOS monomer or dimer in cells. Kinetic studies showed that hsp90 dissociation occurred coincident with cellular heme insertion into apo-iNOS (0.8 h−1). The hsp90 inhibitor radicicol or coexpression of an ATPase-defective hsp90 blocked heme insertion into apo-iNOS by 90 and 75%, respectively. The ATPase activity of hsp90 was not required for complex formation with iNOS but was essential for heme insertion to occur. We conclude that hsp90 plays a primary role in maturation of iNOS protein by interacting with the apoenzyme in cells and then driving heme insertion in an ATP-dependent manner.—Ghosh, A., Chawla-Sarkar, M., Stuehr, D. J. Hsp90 interacts with inducible NO synthase client protein in its heme-free state and then drives heme insertion by an ATP-dependent process
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