The low-molecular-weight GTP-binding protein RhoA mediates hypertrophic growth and atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) gene expression in neonatal rat ventricular myocytes. Neither the effector nor the promoter elements through which Rho exerts its regulatory effects on ANF gene expression have been elucidated. When constitutively activated forms of Rho kinase and two protein kinase C-related kinases, PKN (PRK1) and PRK2, were compared, only PKN generated a robust stimulation of a luciferase reporter gene driven by a 638-bp fragment on the ANF promoter. This ANF promoter fragment contains a proximal serum response element (SRE) and an Sp-1-like element required for the transcriptional response to phenylephrine (PE). This response was inhibited by dominant negative Rho. The ability of dominant negative Rho to inhibit the response to PE and the ability of PKN to stimulate ANF reporter gene expression were both lost when the SRE was mutated. Mutation of the Sp-1-like element also attenuated the response to PKN. A minimal promoter driven by ANF SRE sequences was sufficient to confer Rho- and PKN-mediated gene expression. Interestingly, PKN preferentially stimulated the ANF versus the c-fos SRE reporter gene. Thus PKN and Rho are able to regulate transcriptional activation of the ANF SRE by a common element that could implicate PKN as a downstream effector of Rho in transcriptional responses associated with hypertrophy.