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      Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 and new insights into the renin–angiotensin system


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          Components of the renin–angiotensin system are well established targets for pharmacological intervention in a variety of disorders. Many such therapies abrogate the effects of the hypertensive and mitogenic peptide, angiotensin II, by antagonising its interaction with its receptor, or by inhibiting its formative enzyme, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). At the turn of the millennium, a homologous enzyme, termed ACE2, was identified which increasingly shares the limelight with its better-known homologue. In common with ACE, ACE2 is a type I transmembrane metallopeptidase; however, unlike ACE, ACE2 functions as a carboxypeptidase, cleaving a single C-terminal residue from a distinct range of substrates. One such substrate is angiotensin II, which is hydrolysed by ACE2 to the vasodilatory peptide angiotensin 1–7. In this commentary we discuss the latest developments in the rapidly progressing study of the physiological and patho-physiological roles of ACE2 allied with an overview of the current understanding of its molecular and cell biology. We also discuss parallel developments in the study of collectrin, a catalytically inactive homologue of ACE2 with critical functions in the pancreas and kidney.

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          The angiotensin-converting enzyme gene family: genomics and pharmacology.

          Modulation of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), and particularly inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), a zinc metallopeptidase, has long been a prime strategy in the treatment of hypertension. However, other angiotensin metabolites are gaining in importance as our understanding of the RAS increases. Recently, genomic approaches have identified the first human homologue of ACE, termed ACEH (or ACE2). ACEH differs in specificity and physiological roles from ACE, which opens a potential new area for discovery biology. The gene that encodes collectrin, a homologue of ACEH, is upregulated in response to renal injury. Collectrin lacks a catalytic domain, which indicates that there is more to ACE-like function than simple peptide hydrolysis.
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            Altered blood pressure responses and normal cardiac phenotype in ACE2-null mice.

            The carboxypeptidase ACE2 is a homologue of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). To clarify the physiological roles of ACE2, we generated mice with targeted disruption of the Ace2 gene. ACE2-deficient mice were viable, fertile, and lacked any gross structural abnormalities. We found normal cardiac dimensions and function in ACE2-deficient animals with mixed or inbred genetic backgrounds. On the C57BL/6 background, ACE2 deficiency was associated with a modest increase in blood pressure, whereas the absence of ACE2 had no effect on baseline blood pressures in 129/SvEv mice. After acute Ang II infusion, plasma concentrations of Ang II increased almost 3-fold higher in ACE2-deficient mice than in controls. In a model of Ang II-dependent hypertension, blood pressures were substantially higher in the ACE2-deficient mice than in WT. Severe hypertension in ACE2-deficient mice was associated with exaggerated accumulation of Ang II in the kidney, as determined by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Although the absence of functional ACE2 causes enhanced susceptibility to Ang II-induced hypertension, we found no evidence for a role of ACE2 in the regulation of cardiac structure or function. Our data suggest that ACE2 is a functional component of the renin-angiotensin system, metabolizing Ang II and thereby contributing to regulation of blood pressure.
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              Angiotensin II and renal fibrosis.

              Angiotensin (Ang) II, the main peptide of the renin angiotensin system (RAS), is a renal growth factor, inducing hyperplasia/hypertrophy depending on the cell type. This vasoactive peptide activates mesangial and tubular cells and interstitial fibroblasts, increasing the expression and synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins. Some of these effects seem to be mediated by the release of other growth factors, such as TGF-beta. In experimental models of kidney damage, renal RAS activation, cell proliferation, and upregulation of growth factors and matrix production were described. In some of these models, blockade of Ang II actions by ACE inhibitors and angiotensin type 1 (AT(1)) antagonists prevents proteinuria, gene expression upregulation, and fibrosis, as well as inflammatory cell infiltration. Interestingly, Ang II could also be involved in the fibrotic process because of its behavior as a proinflammatory cytokine, participating in various steps of the inflammatory response: Ang II (1) activates mononuclear cells and (2) increases proinflammatory mediators (cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules, nuclear factor kappaB). Finally, Ang II also regulates matrix degradation. These data show that drugs controlling this complex vasoactive peptide are probably one of the best ways of avoiding fibrosis in progressive renal diseases.

                Author and article information

                Biochem Pharmacol
                Biochem. Pharmacol
                Biochemical Pharmacology
                Elsevier Inc.
                17 August 2007
                15 February 2008
                17 August 2007
                : 75
                : 4
                : 781-786
                [a ]Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
                [b ]Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health and Therapeutics, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
                Author notes
                [* ] Corresponding author. a.j.turner@ 123456leeds.ac.uk
                Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.


                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine
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