The EMBO journal

PDE5 is converted to an activated state upon cGMP binding to the GAF A domain.

PMID 12554648


cGMP-specific, cGMP-binding phosphodiesterase (PDE5) regulates such physiological processes as smooth muscle relaxation and neuronal survival. PDE5 contains two N-terminal domains (GAF A and GAF B), but the functional roles of these domains have not been determined. Here we show that recombinant PDE5 is activated directly upon cGMP binding to the GAF A domain, and this effect does not require PDE5 phosphorylation. PDE5 exhibited time- and concentration-dependent reversible activation in response to cGMP, with the highest activation (9- to 11-fold) observed at low substrate concentrations (0.1 micro M cGMP). A monoclonal antibody directed against GAF A blocked cGMP binding, prevented PDE5 activation and decreased basal activity, revealing that PDE5 in its non-activated state has low intrinsic catalytic activity. Activated PDE5 showed higher sensitivity towards sildenafil than non-activated PDE5. The stimulatory effect of cGMP binding on the catalytic activity of PDE5 suggests that this mechanism of enzyme activation may be common among other GAF domain-containing proteins. The data also suggest that development of agonists and antagonists of PDE5 activity based on binding to this site might be possible.