Structural biology: On stress and pressure.


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