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Methods Enzymol. 2007;428:439-58.

Phenotype of the taurine transporter knockout mouse.

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  • 1Clinic for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectiology, University of Düsseldorf, Germany.

Abstract

This chapter reports present knowledge on the properties of mice with disrupted gene coding for the taurine transporter (taut-/- mice). Study of those mice unraveled some of the roles of taurine and its membrane transport for the development and maintenance of normal organ functions and morphology. When compared with wild-type controls, taut-/- mice have decreased taurine levels in skeletal and heart muscle by about 98%, in brain, kidney, plasma, and retina by 80 to 90%, and in liver by about 70%. taut-/- mice exhibit a lower body mass as well as a strongly reduced exercise capacity compared with taut+/- and wild-type mice. Furthermore, taut-/- mice show a variety of pathological features, for example, subtle derangement of renal osmoregulation, changes in neuroreceptor expression, and loss of long-term potentiation in the striatum, and they develop clinically relevant age-dependent disorders, for example, visual, auditory, and olfactory dysfunctions, unspecific hepatitis, and liver fibrosis. Taurine-deficient animal models such as acutely dietary-manipulated foxes and cats, pharmacologically induced taurine-deficient rats, and taurine transporter knockout mouse are powerful tools allowing identification of the mechanisms and complexities of diseases mediated by impaired taurine transport and taurine depletion (Chapman et al., 1993; Heller-Stilb et al., 2002; Huxtable, 1992; Lake, 1993; Moise et al., 1991; Novotny et al., 1991; Pion et al., 1987; Timbrell et al., 1995; Warskulat et al., 2004, 2006b). Taurine, which is the most abundant amino acid in many tissues, is normally found in intracellular concentrations of 10 to 70 mmol/kg in mammalian heart, brain, skeletal muscle, liver, and retina (Chapman et al., 1993; Green et al., 1991; Huxable, 1992; Timbrell et al., 1995). These high taurine levels are maintained by an ubiquitous expression of Na(+)-dependent taurine transporter (TAUT) in the plasma membrane (Burg, 1995; Kwon and Handler, 1995; Lang et al., 1998; Liu et al., 1992; Ramamoorthy et al., 1994; Schloss et al., 1994; Smith et al., 1992; Uchida et al., 1992; Vinnakota et al., 1997; Yancey et al., 1975). Taurine is not incorporated into proteins. It is involved in cell volume regulation, neuromodulation, antioxidant defense, protein stabilization, stress responses, and via formation of taurine-chloramine in immunomodulation (Chapman et al., 1993; Green et al., 1991; Huxtable, 1992; Timbrell et al., 1995). On the basis of its functions, taurine may protect cells against various types of injury (Chapman et al., 1993; Green et al., 1991; Huxtable, 1992; Kurz et al., 1998; Park et al., 1995; Stapleton et al., 1998; Timbrell et al., 1995; Welch and Brown, 1996; Wettstein and Häussinger, 1997). In order to examine the multiple taurine functions, murine models have several intrinsic advantages for in vivo research compared to other animal models, including lower cost, maintenance, and rapid reproduction rate. Further, experimental reagents for cellular and molecular studies are widely available for the mouse. In particular, mice can be easily genetically manipulated by making transgene and knockout mice. This chapter focuses on the phenotype of the TAUT-deficient murine model (taut-/-; Heller-Stilb et al., 2002), which may help researchers elucidate the diverse roles of taurine in development and maintenance of normal organ functions and morphology.

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