Nutrient transporters: the Achilles' heel of anabolism

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Apr;24(4):200-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2013.01.002. Epub 2013 Feb 8.


Highly proliferative cells, including cancer cells, require a constant supply of molecular building blocks to support their growth. To acquire substrates such as glucose and amino acids from the extracellular space, dividing cells rely on transporter proteins in the plasma membrane. Numerous studies link transcriptional and post-translational control of nutrient transporter expression with proliferation, highlighting the importance of nutrient transporters in both physiologic and pathologic growth. Here we review recent work that spotlights the crucial role of nutrient transporters in cell growth and proliferation, discuss post-translational mechanisms for coordinating expression of different transporters, and consider the therapeutic potential of targeting these proteins in cancer and other diseases characterized by inappropriate cell division.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Glucose