Two-Enzyme Pathway Links l‑Arginine to Nitric Oxide in N‑Nitroso Biosynthesis

Nitric oxide (NO) has wide-ranging roles in biology, but less is known about its role in building chemical diversity. Here we report a new route to NO from the biosynthetic pathway to the N-nitroso compound streptozocin. We show that the N-nitroso group of streptozocin comes from the biosynthetic reassembly of l-arginine, with the guanidino nitrogens forming a nitrogen–nitrogen bond. To understand this biosynthetic process, we identify the biosynthetic gene cluster of streptozocin and demonstrate that free l-arginine is N-methylated by StzE to give Nω-monomethyl-l-arginine. We show that this product is then oxidized by StzF, a nonheme iron-dependent enzyme unrelated to known nitric oxide synthases, generating a urea compound and NO. Our work implies that formation and capture of NO is the likely route to N-nitroso formation in vivo. Altogether, our work unveils a new enzyme pair for the production of NO from l-arginine and sets the stage for understanding biosynthetic routes to N-nitroso natural products.