Apelin peptides mediate beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and are being targeted as potential new drugs. However, apelin peptides have extremely short biological half-lives, and improved understanding of apelin peptide metabolism may lead to the discovery of biologically stable analogues with therapeutic potential. We examined the ability of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) to cleave and inactivate pyr-apelin 13 and apelin 17, the dominant apelin peptides. Computer-assisted modeling shows a conserved binding of pyr-apelin 13 and apelin 17 to the ACE2 catalytic site. In ACE2 knockout mice, hypotensive action of pyr-apelin 13 and apelin 17 was potentiated, with a corresponding greater elevation in plasma apelin levels. Similarly, pharmacological inhibition of ACE2 potentiated the vasodepressor action of apelin peptides. Biochemical analysis confirmed that recombinant human ACE2 can cleave pyr-apelin 13 and apelin 17 efficiently, and apelin peptides are degraded slower in ACE2-deficient plasma. The biological relevance of ACE2-mediated proteolytic processing of apelin peptides was further supported by the reduced potency of pyr-apelin 12 and apelin 16 on the activation of signaling pathways and nitric oxide pro...Continue Reading
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