Deoxycholic acid induces intracellular signaling through membrane perturbations

Samira Jean-Louis, Sandeep Akare, M. Ahad Ali, Eugene A. Mash, Emmanuelle Meuillet, Jesse D. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Secondary bile acids have long been postulated to be tumor promoters in the colon; however, their mechanism of action remains unclear. In this study, we examined the actions of bile acids at the cell membrane and found that they can perturb membrane structure by alteration of membrane microdomains. Depletion of membrane cholesterol by treating with methyl-β-cyclodextrin suppressed deoxycholic acid (DCA)-induced apoptosis, and staining for cholesterol with filipin showed that DCA caused a marked rearrangement of this lipid in the membrane. Likewise, DCA was found to affect membrane distribution of caveolin-1, a marker protein that is enriched in caveolae membrane microdomains. Additionally, fluorescence anisotropy revealed that DCA causes a decrease in membrane fluidity consistent with the increase in membrane cholesterol content observed after 4 h of DCA treatment of HCT116 cells. Significantly, by using radiolabeled bile acids, we found that bile acids are able to interact with and localize to microdomains differently depending on their physicochemical properties. DCA was also found to induce tyrosine phosphorylation and activate the receptor tyrosine kinase epidermal growth factor receptor in a ligand-independent manner. In contrast, ursodeoxycholic acid did not exhibit any of these effects even though it interacted significantly with the microdomains. Collectively, these data suggest that bile acid-induced signaling is initiated through alterations of the plasma membrane structure and the redistribution of cholesterol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14948-14960
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 26 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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