[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a homologue of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), converts angiotensin (Ang) I to Ang(1-9) and Ang II to Ang(1-7), but does not directly process Ang I to Ang II. Cardiac function is compromised in ACE2 null mice; however, the importance of ACE2 in the processing of angiotensin peptides within the murine heart is not known. We determined the metabolism of angiotensins in wild-type (WT), ACE (ACE(-/-)) and ACE2 null mice (ACE2(-/-)). Angiotensin II was converted almost exclusively to Ang(1-7) in the cardiac membranes of WT and ACE(-/-) strains, although generation of Ang(1-7) was greater in the ACE(-/-) mice (27.4 +/- 4.1 versus 17.5 +/- 3.2 nmol(-1) mg h(-1) for WT). The ACE2 inhibitor MLN4760 significantly attenuated Ang II metabolism and the subsequent formation of Ang(1-7) in both strains. In the ACE2(-/-) hearts, Ang II metabolism and the generation of Ang(1-7) were significantly attenuated; however, the ACE2 inhibitor reduced the residual Ang(1-7)-forming activity in this strain. Angiotensin I was primarily converted to Ang(1-9) (WT, 28.9 +/- 3.1 nmol(-1) mg h(-1); ACE(-/-), 49.8 +/- 5.3 nmol(-1) mg h(-1); and ACE2(-/-), 35.9 +/- 5.4 nmol(-1) mg h(-1)) and to smaller quantities of Ang(1-7) and Ang II. Although the ACE2 inhibitor had no effect on Ang(1-9) formation, the carboxypeptidase A inhibitor benzylsuccinate essentially abolished the formation of Ang(1-9) and increased the levels of Ang I in cardiac membranes. In conclusion, our studies in the murine heart suggest that ACE2 is the primary pathway for the metabolism of Ang II and the subsequent formation of Ang(1-7), a peptide that, in contrast to Ang II, exhibits both antifibrotic and antiproliferative actions.