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Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2015 Jan;213(1):191-212. doi: 10.1111/apha.12365. Epub 2014 Sep 12.

Physiological role of taurine--from organism to organelle.

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Section of Cellular and Developmental Biology, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.


Taurine is often referred to as a semi-essential amino acid as newborn mammals have a limited ability to synthesize taurine and have to rely on dietary supply. Taurine is not thought to be incorporated into proteins as no aminoacyl tRNA synthetase has yet been identified and is not oxidized in mammalian cells. However, taurine contributes significantly to the cellular pool of organic osmolytes and has accordingly been acknowledged for its role in cell volume restoration following osmotic perturbation. This review describes taurine homeostasis in cells and organelles with emphasis on taurine biophysics/membrane dynamics, regulation of transport proteins involved in active taurine uptake and passive taurine release as well as physiological processes, for example, development, lung function, mitochondrial function, antioxidative defence and apoptosis which seem to be affected by a shift in the expression of the taurine transporters and/or the cellular taurine content.


apoptosis; cell volume regulation; hypoxia; lung function; membrane dynamics; mitochondrial function

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