Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 366, Issue 3, pp 679–692 | Cite as

Characterisation and vascular expression of nitric oxide synthase 3 in amphibians

  • Melissa S. CameronEmail author
  • Sofie Trajanovska
  • Leonard G. Forgan
  • John A. Donald
Regular Article


In mammals, nitric oxide (NO) produced by nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS3) localised in vascular endothelial cells is an important vasodilator but the presence of NOS3 in the endothelium of amphibians has been concluded to be absent, based on physiological studies. In this study, a nos3 cDNA was sequenced from the toad, Rhinella marina. The open reading frame of R. marina nos3 encoded an 1170 amino acid protein that showed 81 % sequence identity to the recently cloned Xenopus tropicalis nos3. Rhinella marina nos3 mRNA was expressed in a range of tissues and in the dorsal aorta and pulmonary, mesenteric, iliac and gastrocnemius arteries. Furthermore, nos3 mRNA was expressed in the aorta of Xenopus laevis and X. tropicalis. Quantitative real-time PCR showed that removal of the endothelium of the lateral aorta of R. marina significantly reduced the expression of nos3 mRNA compared to control aorta with the endothelium intact. However, in situ hybridisation was not able to detect any nos3 mRNA in the dorsal aorta of R. marina. Immunohistochemistry using a homologous R. marina NOS3 antibody showed immunoreactivity (IR) within the basal region of many endothelial cells of the dorsal aorta and iliac artery. NOS3-IR was also observed in the proximal tubules and collecting ducts of the kidney but not within the capillaries of the glomeruli. This is the first study to demonstrate that vascular endothelial cells of an amphibian express NOS3.


Nitric oxide synthase Nitric oxide Endothelium Amphibian Rhinella 



MC would like to personally thank Dr. Tara Speranza for the use of her microscope at The University of Sydney and the authors thank Professor Yoshio Takei, Associate Professor Susumu Hyodo, Dr. Marty Wong, Dr. Bryony McNeill and Dr. Makoto Kusakabe for their assistance with the study. We kindly thank the reviewers for their comments, which helped improve the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (PDF 74 kb)
441_2016_2479_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (218 kb)
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441_2016_2479_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (52 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa S. Cameron
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sofie Trajanovska
    • 1
  • Leonard G. Forgan
    • 1
  • John A. Donald
    • 1
  1. 1.Geelong, Australia. School of Life and Environmental SciencesDeakin UniversityWaurn PondsAustralia

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