A protein that controls blood pressure is also crucial for fertilization, as shown in a report in the February issue of Nature Medicine.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) regulates blood pressure indirectly by cutting (and therefore activating) proteins such as angiotensin. In the new study, Gen Kondoh and his colleagues describe a radically new biochemical activity for ACE: it cleaves lipids that attach proteins to membranes, releasing the peptides to act away from the cell. Moreover, sperm from mice that lack ACE have problems attaching to eggs, a deficiency that can be reversed by restoring its lipid-, but not its protein-cleaving activity, show the authors.
These results show that ACE has a crucial role in fertilization, which depends on a hitherto unknown biochemical activity of the enzyme.
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