The Competitive Advantage of a Dual-Transporter System

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Science  09 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6061, pp. 1408-1412
DOI: 10.1126/science.1207154

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Cells use transporters of different affinities to regulate nutrient influx. When nutrients are depleted, low-affinity transporters are replaced by high-affinity ones. High-affinity transporters are helpful when concentrations of nutrients are low, but the advantage of reducing their abundance when nutrients are abundant is less clear. When we eliminated such reduced production of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae high-affinity transporters for phosphate and zinc, the elapsed time from the initiation of the starvation program until the lack of nutrients limited growth was shortened, and recovery from starvation was delayed. The latter phenotype was rescued by constitutive activation of the starvation program. Dual-transporter systems appear to prolong preparation for starvation and to facilitate subsequent recovery, which may optimize sensing of nutrient depletion by integrating internal and external information about nutrient availability.

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