LSI Director Josef Penninger was one of the first people to discover the links between the hormone angiotensin, and the enzymes that convert it within the renin-angiotensin system.
This system, one of the most fundamental in basic physiology, regulates blood pressure, as well as heart and kidney functioning through the action of two enzymes, ACE and ACE2. ACE acts to constrict blood vessels, while ACE2 does the opposite – it opens the blood vessels and keeps multiple organs healthy.
Dr. Penninger began work on ACE2 in the late 1990s and went on to be the first to identify it in vivo as the cellular gateway used the SARS virus. ACE2 is now at the centre of the race to identify effective therapeutics to treat and/or halt infections caused by close-cousin SARS-CoV2, and COVID-19 disease.
“My lab co-identified ACE2, and we then made the first ACE2 knockout mice, a senior PI told me that I should drop the project, because ‘who cares about ACE2 anyways, a boring molecule in a known pathway,’ and if I ‘want to have a career it should study something useful’,” recalls Dr. Penninger. “Well, we all know what happened with ACE2 and COVID-19; eventually it turned out of be of “some” usefulness. ALL research and endeavors to advance knowledge are valuable.”
This pivotal role in the pandemic drew the leading interview on the highly regarded Naked Scientists podcast special feature focusing on ACE2, premiered on May 14, 2020.
“On today’s show, meet ACE2, the protein in the spotlight: the bastion of our defenses, that’s become the very breach in our walls. Protector, turned betrayer…” begins presenter and producer Phil Sansom.
Created and launched in 2001 by Chris Smith, the Naked Scientists was one of the first podcasts, and in its current format as an audiovisual broadcast, is one of the world’s most popular science shows. The Naked Scientist is syndicated globally, reaching more than a million people worldwide each week, through broadcasters including the BBC, the ABC (Australia), Primedia (South Africa), Talk Radio Europe and Radio New Zealand. In the last 5 years, the show’s international audience downloaded the program more than 50 million times.
Watch the full ACE2 show here: https://www.thenakedscientists.com/podcasts/naked-genetics/ace2-coronavirus-gateway
“What is ACE2,” Dr. Penninger’s segment can be accessed here: https://www.thenakedscientists.com/articles/interviews/what-ace2