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Angiotensinogen and the Modulation of Blood Pressure

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Shu, Zimei 
Wan, Jiahui 
Read, Randy J. 
Carrell, Robin W. 
Zhou, Aiwu 


The angiotensin peptides that control blood pressure are released from the non-inhibitory plasma serpin, angiotensinogen, on cleavage of its extended N-terminal tail by the specific aspartyl-protease, renin. Angiotensinogen had previously been assumed to be a passive substrate, but we describe here how recent studies reveal an inherent conformational mechanism that is critical to the cleavage and release of the angiotensin peptides and consequently to the control of blood pressure. A series of crystallographic structures of angiotensinogen and its derivative forms, together with its complexes with renin show in molecular detail how the interaction with renin triggers a profound shift of the amino-terminal tail of angiotensinogen with modulation occurring at several levels. The tail of angiotensinogen is restrained by a labile disulfide bond, with changes in its redox status affecting angiotensin release, as demonstrably so in the hypertensive complication of pregnancy, pre-eclampsia. The shift of the tail also enhances the binding of renin through a tail-in-mouth allosteric mechanism. The N-terminus is now seen to insert into a pocket equivalent to the hormone-binding site on other serpins, with helix H of angiotensinogen unwinding to form key interactions with renin. The findings explain the precise species specificity of the interaction with renin and with variant carbohydrate linkages. Overall, the studies provide new insights into the physiological regulation of angiotensin release, with an ability to respond to local tissue and temperature changes, and with the opening of strategies for the development of novel agents for the treatment of hypertension.



Cardiovascular Medicine, serpin, angiotensinogen, renin, tail-in-mouth, allosteric, redox switch, hypertension, pre-eclampsia

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Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine

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Frontiers Media S.A.