Taurine, a non essential sulfur-containing amino acid, plays a critical role in cardiovascular functions. We here examined the effect of taurine on angiogenesis and its underlying signal pathway. Taurine treatment increased angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo, which was followed by activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt, MEK/ERK, and Src/FAK signaling pathways. Further, taurine promoted endothelial cell cycle progression to the S and G2/M phases by up-regulating the positive cell cycle proteins, particularly cyclins D1 and B, as well as down-regulating the negative cell cycle proteins, p53 and p21 WAF1/CIP1, resulting in Rb phosphorylation. This angiogenic event was inhibited by inhibitors of PI3K and MEK. In addition, a PI3K inhibitor blocked the activation of Akt and ERK, while Akt knockdown did not affect taurine-induced ERK activation, indicating that PI3K is an upstream mediator of both MEK and Akt. Taurine-induced endothelial cell migration was suppressed by Src inhibitor, but not by other inhibitors, suggesting that the increase in cell migration is regulated by Src-dependent pathway. Moreover, inhibition of cellular taurine uptake by β-alanine and taurine transporter knockdown promoted taurine-induced cell proliferation, ERK and Akt activation, and in vivo angiogenesis, suggesting that extracellular taurine induces angiogenesis. However, taurine did not induce vascular inflammation and permeability in vitro and in vivo. These data demonstrate that extracellular taurine promotes angiogenesis by Akt- and ERK-dependent cell cycle progression and Src/FAK-mediated cell migration without inducing vascular inflammation, indicating that it is potential use for the treatment of vascular dysfunction-associated human diseases.
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