Osmoregulatory alterations in taurine uptake by cultured human and bovine lens epithelial cells

Patrick R. Cammarata, Grant Schafer, Shiuh Wei Chen, Zhen Guo, Rustin E. Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Comparative assessment of cultured human lens epithelial cells (HLECs) and bovine lens epithelial cells (BLECs) established the nature of the relationship between taurine-concentrating capability and intracellular polyol accumulation or extracellular hypertonicity. METHODS. The kinetic characteristics of active taurine accumulation based on the measurement of in vitro [3H]-taurine uptake were resolved by side-to-side review of cultured HLECs and BLECs pre-exposed to either galactose-supplemented medium or extracellular hypertonicity. Competitive RT-PCR was used to appraise variation in taurine transporter (TauT) mRNA abundance from cells maintained in hyperosmotic medium over a 72-hour exposure period. RESULTS. The capacity to accumulate [3H]-taurine was significantly lowered after prolonged (20-hour) incubation of cultured BLECs in 40 mM galactose in contrast to HLECs, the latter cells′ velocity curve being indistinguishable from control cells in physiological medium. Inhibition of the intracellular taurine transport site appeared to be noncompetitive, in that there was a marked reduction in the Vmax without significant alteration in the Km to a high-affinity transport site. Galactitol content in BLECs exceeded five times that found in HLECs. The coadministration of the aldose reductase inhibitor, sorbinil, with 40 mM galactose completely prevented the inhibitory effect of galactose on [3H]-taurine uptake. Acute exposure (3 hours) of HLECs and BLECs to a range of 10 to 40 mM galactitol or 10 to 40 mM galactose plus sorbinil-supplemented medium suggested by Dixon plot that neither galactitol nor galactose interacted with the extracellular taurine transport site. In contrast, [3H]-taurine accumulation was markedly elevated in both HLECs and BLECs after prolonged exposure to galactose-free medium made hyperosmotic by supplementation with sodium chloride. The enhanced taurine uptake capacity involved increase in peak velocity (Vmax) without significant change in Michaelis-Menten constant (Km). Cultured HLECs and BLECs responded to hypertonicity with an inducible but transitory upregulation of TauT mRNA. Conclusions. These results demonstrate that lens epithelial cells express a high-affinity TauT protein capable of active uptake, but predisposed to inhibition by intracellular galactitol when the sugar alcohol is present in sufficiently high concentration to interfere with cell metabolism. Furthermore, lens epithelial cells respond to hypertonic stress by raising taurine transport activity. The increase in taurine uptake is due to an increase in the number of high-affinity TauTs expressed as a result of an increase in the manifestation of taurine mRNA stemming from exposure to hypertonic medium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-433
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


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