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Taurine is a liver X receptor-α ligand and activates transcription of key genes in the reverse cholesterol transport without inducing hepatic lipogenesis


Correspondence: Professor Sung-Joon Lee, Department of Biotechnology, Graduate School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Korea University, Seoul 136-713, South Korea

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Taurine, which is abundant in seafood, has antiatherogenic activities in both animals and humans; however, its molecular target has been elusive. We examined whether taurine could activate liver X receptor-α (LXR-α), a critical transcription factor in the regulation of reverse cholesterol transport in macrophages.

Methods and results

Taurine bound directly to LXR-α in a reporter gene assay, time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer analysis, and limited protease digestion experiment. Macrophage cells incubated with taurine showed reduced cellular cholesterol and induced medium cholesterol in a dose-dependent manner with the induction of ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 and G gene and protein expression. In hepatocytes, taurine significantly induced Insig-2a levels and delayed nuclear translocation of the sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP-1) protein, resulting in a dose-dependent reduction in the cellular lipid levels without inducing the expression of fatty acid synthesis genes.


Taurine is a direct LXR-α ligand, represses cholesterol accumulation, and modulates the expression of genes involved in reverse cholesterol transport in macrophages, without inducing hepatic lipogenesis. The induction of Insig-2a suppressed the nuclear translocation of SREBP-1c.