Differential mechanisms of activation of the Ang peptide receptors AT1, AT2, and MAS: using in silico techniques to differentiate the three receptors

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 3;8(6):e65307. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065307. Print 2013.


The renin-angiotensin system is involved in multiple conditions ranging from cardiovascular disorders to cancer. Components of the pathway, including ACE, renin and angiotensin receptors are targets for disease treatment. This study addresses three receptors of the pathway: AT1, AT2, and MAS and how the receptors are similar and differ in activation by angiotensin peptides. Combining biochemical and amino acid variation data with multiple species sequence alignments, structural models, and docking site predictions allows for visualization of how angiotensin peptides may bind and activate the receptors; allowing identification of conserved and variant mechanisms in the receptors. MAS differs from AT1 favoring Ang-(1-7) and not Ang II binding, while AT2 recently has been suggested to preferentially bind Ang III. A new model of Ang peptide binding to AT1 and AT2 is proposed that correlates data from site directed mutagenesis and photolabled experiments that were previously considered conflicting. Ang II binds AT1 and AT2 through a conserved initial binding mode involving amino acids 111 (consensus 325) of AT1 (Asn) interacting with Tyr (4) of Ang II and 199 and 256 (consensus 512 and 621, a Lys and His respectively) interacting with Phe (8) of Ang II. In MAS these sites are not conserved, leading to differential binding and activation by Ang-(1-7). In both AT1 and AT2, the Ang II peptide may internalize through Phe (8) of Ang II propagating through the receptors' conserved aromatic amino acids to the final photolabled positioning relative to either AT1 (amino acid 294, Asn, consensus 725) or AT2 (138, Leu, consensus 336). Understanding receptor activation provides valuable information for drug design and identification of other receptors that can potentially bind Ang peptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Angiotensin I / chemistry
  • Angiotensin II / chemistry
  • Angiotensin III / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Molecular Docking Simulation*
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Protein Transport
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / chemistry*
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / chemistry*
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 2 / chemistry*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry*
  • Renin / chemistry
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Structural Homology, Protein


  • Peptides
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 2
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Angiotensin II
  • Angiotensin III
  • Angiotensin I
  • ACE protein, human
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • Renin

Grants and funding

Funding was through Choose Ohio First Bioinformatics scholarship, University of Akron, American Heart Association award 11PRE7380033, Brazilian National Institute of Science and Technology in Hormones and Women’s Health, and Federal University of Minas Gerais. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.