Amino acids are compartmentalized in the vacuoles of microorganisms and plants. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, basic amino acids accumulate preferentially into vacuoles but acidic amino acids are almost excluded from them. This indicates that selective machineries operate at the vacuolar membrane. The members of the amino acid/auxin permease family and the major facilitator superfamily involved in the vacuolar compartmentalization of amino acids have been recently identified in studies using S. cerevisiae. Homologous genes for these transporters are also found in plant and mammalian genomes. The physiological significance in response to nitrogen starvation can now be discussed.
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