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Sci. Signal., 7 February 2012
Vol. 5, Issue 210, p. pe5
[DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002837]

PERSPECTIVES

An "Inordinate Fondness for Transporters" Explained?

David J. Eide*

Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

Abstract: An often-asked question is, Why are there so many different transporters in a cell to take up a particular substrate? At least part of the answer comes from work on the possible competitive advantage of dual-transporter systems. In such systems, low-affinity transporters function when a nutrient is plentiful in the environment, and the abundance of high-affinity transporters is increased when that nutrient becomes scarce. A dual-transporter system enabled a long "preparation phase" to occur during which cells induce gene expression as they become increasingly starved. Surprisingly, the preparation phase is important not for growth under low-nutrient conditions but rather for fluctuating nutrient amounts as commonly occurs in nature. Thus, this creative study provides a previously unconsidered explanation for the abundance of dual-transporter systems in biology.

* Corresponding author. E-mail: eide{at}nutrisci.wisc.edu; telephone: 608-263-1613; fax: 608-262-5860

Citation: D. J. Eide, An "Inordinate Fondness for Transporters" Explained? Sci. Signal. 5, pe5 (2012).

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