Aldosterone synthase is a mitochondrial enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of 11-deoxycorticosterone to the potent mineralocorticoid aldosterone. The gene encoding aldosterone synthase, CYP11B2, is expressed in the zona glomerulosa of the adrenal cortex. Although the major physiological regulators of aldosterone production are angiotensin II (ANG II) and potassium (K+), the mechanisms by which these compounds regulate CYP11B2 transcription are unknown. Therefore we analyzed the human CYP11B2 5'-flanking region using a transient transfection expression system in the H295R human adrenocortical cell line. ANG II and K+ increased expression of a luciferase reporter construct containing 2015 bp of human CYP11B2 5'- flanking DNA. This response was mimicked by treatment with the calcium channel activator BAYK8644, whereas activation of the protein kinase C pathway with 12-o-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate had no effect. Reporter gene activity was also increased after activation of cAMP-dependent pathways by (Bu)2cAMP. Deletion, mutation, and deoxyribonuclease I footprinting analyses of the CYP11B2 5'-flanking region identified two distinct elements at positions -71/-64 (TGACGTGA) and -129/-114 (CTCCAGCCT-TGACCTT) that were both required for full basal reporter gene activity and for maximal induction by either cAMP or calcium-signaling pathways. The -71/-64 element, which resembles a consensus cAMP response element (CRE), bound CRE-binding proteins from H295R cell nuclear extracts as determined by electrophoretic mobility shift analysis. Analysis of the -129/-114 element using electrophoretic mobility shift analysis demonstrated binding of the orphan nuclear receptors steroidogenic factor 1 and chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor. These data demonstrate that ANG II, K+, and cAMP-signaling pathways utilize the same SF-1 and CRE-like cis-elements to regulate human CYP11B2 expression.