An increase in essential amino acid availability upregulates amino acid transporter expression in human skeletal muscle

Micah J. Drummond, Erin L. Glynn, Christopher S. Fry, Kyle L. Timmerman, Elena Volpi, Blake B. Rasmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


Essential amino acids (EAA) stimulate skeletal muscle mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling and protein synthesis. It has recently been reported that an increase in amino acid (AA) transporter expression during anabolic conditions is rapamycin-sensitive. The purpose of this study was to determine whether an increase in EAA availability increases AA transporter expression in human skeletal muscle. Muscle biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis of seven young adult subjects (3 male, 4 female) before and 1-3 h after EAA ingestion (10 g). Blood and muscle samples were analyzed for leucine kinetics using stable isotopic techniques. Quantitative RT-PCR, and immunoblotting were used to determine the mRNA and protein expression, respectively, of AA transporters and members of the general AA control pathway [general control nonrepressed (GCN2), activating transcription factor (ATF4), and eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF2) α-subunit (Ser52)]. EAA ingestion increased blood leucine concentration, delivery of leucine to muscle, transport of leucine from blood into muscle, intracellular muscle leucine concentration, ribosomal protein S6 (Ser240/244) phosphorylation, and muscle protein synthesis. This was followed with increased L-type AA transporter (LAT1), CD98, sodium-coupled neutral AA transporter (SNAT2), and proton-coupled amino acid transporter (PAT1) mRNA expression at 1 h (P < 0.05) and modest increases in LAT1 protein expression (3 h post-EAA) and SNAT2 protein expression (2 and 3 h post-EAA, P < 0.05). Although there were no changes in GCN2 expression and eIF2α phosphorylation, ATF4 protein expression reached significance by 2 h post-EAA (P < 0.05). We conclude that an increase in EAA availability upregulates human skeletal muscle AA transporter expression, perhaps in an mTORC1-dependent manner, which may be an adaptive response necessary for improved AA intracellular delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1011-E1018
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • L-type amino acid transporter type 1
  • Mammalian target of rapamycin
  • Nutrient signaling
  • Protein metabolism
  • Sodium-coupled neutral amino acid transporter type 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'An increase in essential amino acid availability upregulates amino acid transporter expression in human skeletal muscle'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this