We have recently cloned a novel molecule that interacts with the angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R)-associated protein (ATRAP). In this study, we tested the hypothesis that ATRAP modulates angiotensin II-induced responses in vascular smooth muscle cells. The results of immunoprecipitation and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer assay demonstrated a direct interaction between ATRAP and AT1R at baseline and showed that angiotensin II enhanced the interaction of these proteins >2-fold. The results of immunofluorescence analysis also demonstrated that >65% of ATRAP constitutively colocalized with an endosome marker. Although only 36% of ATRAP colocalized with AT1R at baseline, angiotensin II enhanced the colocalization of these molecules and made 92% of ATRAP colocalize with AT1R on a quantitative fluorescence analysis. Overexpression of ATRAP by adenoviral transfer decreased the cell surface AT1R number from 4.33 to 2.13 fmol/10(6) cells at baseline and from 3.04 to 1.26 fmol/10(6) cells even after removal of angiotensin II. ATRAP also suppressed angiotensin II-mediated increases in c-fos gene transcription and transforming growth factor-beta production. Furthermore, this suppression was accompanied by inhibition of angiotensin II-induced activation of 5-bromodeoxyuridine incorporation. Finally, ATRAP knockdown by small-interference RNA activated angiotensin II-induced c-fos gene expression, which was effectively inhibited by valsartan, an AT1R-specific antagonist. These results indicate that ATRAP promotes internalization of AT1R and attenuates the angiotensin II-mediated c-fos-transforming growth factor-beta pathway and proliferative response in vascular smooth muscle cells, suggesting a novel strategy to inhibit vascular fibrosis and remodeling through a novel and specific blockade of AT1R signaling.