Structural biology: On stress and pressure.

Abstract

Numerous signals emanating from the kidney, blood vessels, heart and brain regulate blood pressure, with an imbalance between them causing altered blood pressure. One such prominent signal­ ling pathway is the renin–angiotensin system. Renin is a protease enzyme that catalyses the rate­limiting step in this pathway — cleavage of ten amino­acid residues at the amino termi­ nus of its only known substrate, angiotensino­ gen. The resulting peptide is further processed into a family of angiotensin peptide hormones, the best characterized of which, angiotensin II, increases blood pressure in various ways. On page 108 of this issue, Zhou et al. pro­ vide structural evidence for the way in which redox­based conformational changes in angio­ tensinogen expose the site cleaved by renin. The renin–angiotensin system is evolu­ tionarily ‘thrifty’: the common outcome of angiotensin activity is sodium conservation. In an ancient environment in which sodium was scarce, angiotensin activity may have been beneficial. However, the system can have detri­ mental effects in the modern, sodium­replete environment. Indeed, the sodium­preserving actions of angiotensin are problematic for the large population of salt­sensitive people with high blood pressure (hypertension), and drug­ mediated blockade of the renin–angiotensin S T r U C T U r a l B i o l o G Y

DOI: 10.1038/468046a

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Cite this paper

@article{Sigmund2010StructuralBO, title={Structural biology: On stress and pressure.}, author={Curt D. Sigmund}, journal={Nature}, year={2010}, volume={468 7320}, pages={46-7} }