Delivery of oxygen to tissues is the primary function of the cardiovascular system. NO, a gasotransmitter that signals predominantly through protein S-nitrosylation to form S-nitrosothiols (SNOs) in target proteins, operates coordinately with oxygen in mammalian cellular systems. From this perspective, SNO-based signaling may have evolved as a major transducer of the cellular oxygen-sensing machinery that underlies global cardiovascular function. Here we review mechanisms that regulate S-nitrosylation in the context of its essential role in “systems-level” control of oxygen sensing, delivery, and utilization in the cardiovascular system, and we highlight examples of aberrant S-nitrosylation that may lead to altered oxygen homeostasis in cardiovascular diseases. Thus, through a bird’s-eye view of S-nitrosylation in the cardiovascular system, we provide a conceptual framework that may be broadly applicable to the functioning of other cellular systems and physiological processes and that illuminates new therapeutic promise in cardiovascular medicine.
Saptarsi M. Haldar, Jonathan S. Stamler
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