G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are important drug targets. Blocking angiotensin II (Ang II) type 1 receptor signaling alleviates hypertension and improves outcomes in patients with heart failure. Changes in structure and trafficking of GPCR, and desensitization of GPCR signaling induce pathophysiological processes. We investigated whether Ang II, via induction of AT1R and μ-opioid receptor (μOR) dimerization in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), leads to progressive hypertension. Ang II signaling increased μOR and adrenergic receptor α2A (α2A-AR) heterodimer levels and decreased expression of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2T202/Y204, ribosomal protein S6 kinaseT359/S363, and nNOSS1416 phosphorylation. Dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase 1 (DDAH1) expression was abolished in the NTS of adult spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs). Endomorphin-2 was overexpressed in NTS of adult SHRs compared with that in 6-week-old Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY). Administration of μOR agonist into the NTS of WKY increased blood pressure (BP), decreased nitric oxide (NO) production, and decreased DDAH1 activity. μOR agonist significantly reduced the activity of DDAH1 and decreased neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) phosphorylation. The AT1R II inhibitor, losartan, significantly decreased BP and abolished AT1R-induced formation of AT1R and μOR, and α2A-AR and μOR, heterodimers. Losartan also significantly increased the levels of nNOSS1416 phosphorylation and DDAH1 expression. These results show that Ang II may induce expression of endomorphin-2 and abolished DDAH1 activity by enhancing the formation of AT1R and μOR heterodimers in the NTS, leading to progressive hypertension.
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