Some Gram-positive bacterial pathogens harbor a gene that encodes a protein (HNS, Heme domain of NO Synthase-like proteins) with striking sequence identity to the oxygenase domain of mammalian NO synthases (NOS). However, they lack the N-terminal and the Zn-cysteine motif participating to the stability of an active dimer in the mammalian isoforms. The unique properties of HNS make it an excellent model system for probing how the heme environment tunes NO dynamics and for comparing it to the endothelial NO synthase heme domain (eNOSHD) using ultrafast transient spectroscopy. NO rebinding in HNS from Staphylococcus aureus (SA-HNS) is faster than that measured for either Bacillus anthracis (BA-HNS) or for eNOSHD in both oxidized and reduced forms in the presence of arginine. To test whether these distinct rates arise from different energy barriers for NO recombination, we measured rebinding kinetics at several temperatures. Our data are consistent with different barriers for NO recombination in SA-HNS and BA-HNS and the presence of a second NO-binding site. The hypothesis that an additional NO-binding cavity is present in BA-HNS is also consistent with the effect of the NO concentration on its rebinding. The lack of the effect of NO concentration on the geminate rebinding in SA-HNS could be due to an isolated second site. We confirm the existence of a second NO site in the oxygenase domain of the reduced eNOS as previously hypothesized [A. Slama-Schwok, M. Négrerie, V. Berka, J.C. Lambry, A.L. Tsai, M.H. Vos, J.L. Martin, Nitric oxide (NO) traffic in endothelial NO synthase. Evidence for a new NO binding site dependent on tetrahydrobiopterin? J. Biol. Chem. 277 (2002) 7581-7586]. This site requires the presence of arginine and BH4; and we propose that NO dynamic and escape from eNOS is regulated by the active site H-bonding network connecting between the heme, the substrate, and cofactor. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.