Nedd4-2 up-regulation is associated with ACE2 ubiquitination in hypertension

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Cardiovascular Research


AIMS: Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a critical component of the compensatory renin-angiotensin system that is down-regulated during the development of hypertension, possibly via ubiquitination. However, little is known about the mechanisms involved in ACE2 ubiquitination in neurogenic hypertension. This study aimed at identifying ACE2 ubiquitination partners, establishing causal relationships and clinical relevance, and testing a gene therapy strategy to mitigate ACE2 ubiquitination in neurogenic hypertension. METHODS AND RESULTS: Bioinformatics and proteomics were combined to identify E3 ubiquitin ligases associated with ACE2 ubiquitination in chronically hypertensive mice. In vitro gain/loss of function experiments assessed ACE2 expression and activity to validate the interaction between ACE2 and the identified E3 ligase. Mutation experiments were further used to generate a ubiquitination-resistant ACE2 mutant (ACE2-5R). Optogenetics, blood pressure telemetry, pharmacological blockade of GABAA receptors in mice expressing ACE2-5R in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), and capillary western analysis were used to assess the role of ACE2 ubiquitination in neurogenic hypertension. Ubiquitination was first validated as leading to ACE2 down-regulation, and Neural precursor cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated protein 4-2 (Nedd4-2) was identified as a E3 ligase up-regulated in hypertension and promoting ACE2 ubiquitination. Mutation of lysine residues in the C-terminal of ACE2 was associated with increased activity and resistance to angiotensin (Ang)-II-mediated degradation. Mice transfected with ACE2-5R in the BNST exhibited enhanced GABAergic input to the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and a reduction in hypertension. ACE2-5R expression was associated with reduced Nedd4-2 levels in the BNST. CONCLUSION: Our data identify Nedd4-2 as the first E3 ubiquitin ligase involved in ACE2 ubiquitination in Ang-II-mediated hypertension. We demonstrate the pivotal role of ACE2 on GABAergic neurons in the maintenance of an inhibitory tone to the PVN and the regulation of pre-sympathetic activity. These findings provide a new working model where Nedd4-2 could contribute to ACE2 ubiquitination, leading to the development of neurogenic hypertension and highlighting potential novel therapeutic strategies.

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