Aldosterone production is modified by several growth factors that reside in the adrenal. We have recently reported the existence of a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) system in human adrenocortical cells, in which BMP-6 augments aldosterone synthesis. Here, we investigated functional roles of BMP-6, focusing on the differential regulation of aldosterone synthesis induced by angiotensin (Ang) II and potassium (K). In human adrenocortical H295R cells, BMP-6 augmented Ang II-induced CYP11B2 transcription and mRNA and aldosterone production but had no effect on K-induced aldosterone production. Inhibition of endogenous BMP-6 action by neutralizing antibodies impaired aldosterone production induced by Ang II but not that induced by K. Blockage of ligand-receptor binding using extracellular domain (ECD) of BMP type I receptors revealed that ECDs to activin receptor-like kinase (ALK)-2 and ALK-3 significantly reduced the aldosterone production induced by Ang II. None of the type I-receptor ECDs tested had any effect on K-induced aldosterone levels. Overexpression of a dominant negative-activin type II receptor construct selectively decreased Ang II-induced aldosterone production without having any effect on K-induced aldosterone production. BMP type II receptor-dominant negative had no effect on aldosterone induced by either Ang II or K. These results infer that BMP-6 acts through ALK-2, ALK-3, and activin type II receptor receptors in adrenocortical cells. BMP-6 pretreatment extends the induction of ERK1/2 phosphorylation by Ang II and treatment with ECDs to ALK-2 and ALK-3 impaired Ang II-induced ERK phosphorylation. The specific inhibitor of ERK activation, U0126, suppressed the activation of CYP11B2 transcription induced by BMP-6 without affecting Smad phosphorylation and Tlx2-Luc activity. Collectively, the endogenous BMP-6 system plays critical roles in aldosterone production between Ang II and K through ERK signaling pathway.
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