American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism

Extrahepatic tissues compensate for loss of hepatic taurine synthesis in mice with liver-specific knockout of cysteine dioxygenase.

PMID 22414809


Because hepatic cysteine dioxygenase (CDO) appears to play the major role in controlling cysteine catabolism in the intact rat, we characterized the effect of a lack of hepatic CDO on the regulation of cysteine and its metabolites at the whole body level. In mice with liver-specific deletion of CDO expression, hepatic and plasma cysteine levels increased. In addition, in mice with liver-specific deletion of CDO expression, the abundance of CDO and the proportion of CDO existing as the mature, more active isoform increased in extrahepatic tissues that express CDO (kidney, brown fat, and gonadal fat). CDO abundance was also increased in the pancreas, where most of the enzyme in both control and liver CDO-knockout mice was in the more active isoform. This upregulation of CDO concentration and active-site cofactor formation were not associated with an increase in CDO mRNA and thus presumably were due to a decrease in CDO degradation and an increase in CDO cofactor formation in association with increased exposure of extrahepatic tissues to cysteine in mice lacking hepatic CDO. Extrahepatic tissues of liver CDO-knockout mice also had higher levels of hypotaurine, consistent with increased metabolism of cysteine by the CDO/cysteinesulfinate decarboxylase pathway. The hepatic CDO-knockout mice were able to maintain normal levels of glutathione, taurine, and sulfate. The maintenance of taurine concentrations in liver as well as in extrahepatic tissues is particularly notable, since mice were fed a taurine-free diet and liver is normally considered the major site of taurine biosynthesis. This redundant capacity for regulation of cysteine concentrations and production of hypotaurine/taurine is additional support for the body's robust mechanisms for control of body cysteine levels and indicates that extrahepatic tissues are able to compensate for a lack of hepatic capacity for cysteine catabolism.