Bacterial nitric oxide synthases (bNOS) are present in many Gram-positive species and have been demonstrated to synthesize NO from arginine in vitro and in vivo. However, the physiological role of bNOS remains largely unknown. We show that NO generated by bNOS increases the resistance of bacteria to a broad spectrum of antibiotics, enabling the bacteria to survive and share habitats with antibiotic-producing microorganisms. NO-mediated resistance is achieved through both the chemical modification of toxic compounds and the alleviation of the oxidative stress imposed by many antibiotics. Our results suggest that the inhibition of NOS activity may increase the effectiveness of antimicrobial therapy.
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