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Taurine (Molecule of the Month for January 2002)

Gives you wings?

Taurine is used famously as an active ingredient in energy drinks, such as "Red Bull".

Taurine is a nonessential sulfur-containing amino acid that functions with glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid as a neuroinhibitory transmitter. At times of extreme physical exertion, the body no longer produces the required amounts of taurine, and a relative deficiency results. Taurine acts as a metabolic transmitter and additionally has a detoxifying effect and strengthens cardiac contractility. While taurine does not have a genetic codon and is not incorporated into proteins and enzymes, it does play an important role in bile acid metabolism. Taurine is incorporated into one of the most abundant bile acids, chenodeoxychloic acid where it serves to emulsify dietary lipids in the intestine, promoting digestion.

Taurine is a derivative of L-Methionine >>>>> L-Cysteine >>> Taurine. Taurine synthesis occurs in the liver and the brain. Concentrates of Taurine have also been found in extremely high concentrates in the brain, intestines and skeletal muscles.

Most amino acids have a L- or D- configuration, which means the molecule when put into a solution will rotate light either to the left (Levo=L) or the right (Dextro = D). Taurine does not polarize light and consequently does not have an L- or D- configuration.

It has been established that taurine concentration is extraordinarily high in the developing brain, and falls of sharply thereafter. This occurs at a time when the presumed synthetic pathway, via cysteine sulfinate decarboxylase, has little measurable activity, suggesting that a dietary source of taurine is essential. Moreover, it has been found that high concentrations of taurine are present in breast milk, which reflects the important need for taurine by the growing animal.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
2-Aminoethylsulphonic Acid

Picture of Taurine

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Taurine structure
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Picture of Taurine

C2 H7 N O3 S

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for January 2002 )