Aims: Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which metabolizes many peptides and plays a key role in blood pressure regulation and vascular remodeling, is expressed as a type-1 membrane glycoprotein on the surface of different cells, including endothelial cells of the heart. We hypothesized that the local conformation and, therefore, the properties of heart ACE could differ from lung ACE due to different microenvironment in these organs. Methods and results: We performed ACE phenotyping (ACE levels, conformation and kinetic characteristics) in the human heart and compared it with that in the lung. ACE activity in heart tissues was 10–15 lower than that in lung. Various ACE effectors, LMW endogenous ACE inhibitors and HMW ACE-binding partners, were shown to be present in both heart and lung tissues. “Conformational fingerprint” of heart ACE (i.e., the pattern of 17 mAbs binding to different epitopes on the ACE surface) significantly differed from that of lung ACE, which reflects differences in the local conformations of these ACEs, likely controlled by different ACE glycosylation in these organs. Substrate specificity and pH-optima of the heart and lung ACEs also differed. Moreover, even within heart the apparent ACE activities, the local ACE conformations, and the content of ACE inhibitors differ in atria and ventricles. Conclusions: Significant differences in the local conformations and kinetic properties of heart and lung ACEs demonstrate tissue specificity of ACE and provide a structural base for the development of mAbs able to distinguish heart and lung ACEs as a potential blood test for predicting atrial fibrillation risk.
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