Current topics in angiotensin II type 1 receptor research: Focus on inverse agonism, receptor dimerization and biased agonism
Although the octapeptide hormone angiotensin II (Ang II) regulates cardiovascular and renal homeostasis through the Ang II type 1 receptor (AT1R), overstimulation of AT1R causes various human diseases, such as hypertension and cardiac hypertrophy. Therefore, AT1R blockers (ARBs) have been widely used as therapeutic drugs for these diseases. Recent basic research and clinical studies have resulted in the discovery of interesting phenomena associated with AT1R function. For example, ligand-independent activation of AT1R by mechanical stress and agonistic autoantibodies, as well as via receptor mutations, has been shown to decrease the inverse agonistic efficacy of ARBs, though the molecular mechanisms of such phenomena had remained elusive until recently. Furthermore, although AT1R is believed to exist as a monomer, recent studies have demonstrated that AT1R can homodimerize and heterodimerize with other G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR), altering the receptor signaling properties. Therefore, formation of both AT1R homodimers and AT1R-GPCR heterodimer may be involved in the pathogenesis of human disease states, such as atherosclerosis and preeclampsia. Finally, biased AT1R ligands that can preferentially activate the β-arrestin-mediated signaling pathway have been discovered. Such β-arrestin-biased AT1R ligands may be better therapeutic drugs for cardiovascular diseases. New findings on AT1R described herein could provide a conceptual framework for application of ARBs in the treatment of diseases, as well as for novel drug development. Since AT1R is an extensively studied member of the GPCR superfamily encoded in the human genome, this review is relevant for understanding the functions of other members of this superfamily.