Exchange proteins directly activated by cyclic AMP(Epac) were discovered 10 years ago as new sensors for the second messenger cyclic AMP (cAMP). Epac family, including Epac1 and Epac2, are guanine nucleotide exchange factors for the Ras-like small GTPases Rap1 and Rap2 and function independently of protein kinase A. Given the importance of cAMP in the cardiovascular system, numerous molecular and cellular studies using specific Epac agonists have analyzed the role and the regulation of Epac proteins in cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology.Epac contains an evolutionally conserved cAMP-binding domain that acts as a molecular switch for sensing intracellular second messenger cAMP levels to control diverse biological functions. Developing the ability to regulate cAMP-mediated signaling through Epac may lead to remarkable new therapies for the treatment of cardiac diseases.
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