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Robson A S Santos, Anderson J Ferreira, Thiago Verano-Braga, and Michael Bader

Angiotensin (Ang)-(1–7) is now recognized as a biologically active component of the renin–angiotensin system (RAS). Ang-(1–7) appears to play a central role in the RAS because it exerts a vast array of actions, many of them opposite to those attributed to the main effector peptide of the RAS, Ang II. The discovery of the Ang-converting enzyme (ACE) homolog ACE2 brought to light an important metabolic pathway responsible for Ang-(1–7) synthesis. This enzyme can form Ang-(1–7) from Ang II or less efficiently through hydrolysis of Ang I to Ang-(1–9) with subsequent Ang-(1–7) formation by ACE. In addition, it is now well established that the G protein-coupled receptor Mas is a functional binding site for Ang-(1–7). Thus, the axis formed by ACE2/Ang-(1–7)/Mas appears to represent an endogenous counterregulatory pathway within the RAS, the actions of which are in opposition to the vasoconstrictor/proliferative arm of the RAS consisting of ACE, Ang II, and AT1 receptor. In this brief review, we will discuss recent findings related to the biological role of the ACE2/Ang-(1–7)/Mas arm in the cardiovascular and renal systems, as well as in metabolism. In addition, we will highlight the potential interactions of Ang-(1–7) and Mas with AT1 and AT2 receptors.