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Trends Neurosci. 2006 Feb;29(2):91-9. Epub 2006 Jan 10.

Nutritional homeostasis and indispensable amino acid sensing: a new solution to an old puzzle.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Indispensable amino acids are neither synthesized nor stored in animals and are rapidly depleted when not provided by the diet. To maintain homeostasis, organisms must sense deficiency of an indispensable amino acid and implement a repletion strategy. In rats and birds, the anterior piriform cortex houses the detector, but its mechanism has evaded description for >50 years. Recently, rapid detection of amino acid depletion was shown behaviorally when naïve animals, pre-fed a low nitrogen diet, terminated their first deficient meal within 20 min. The general amino acid control system of yeast, which is activated by amino acid deprivation via deacylated tRNA, was found to be active in rodent brain, showing conservation of amino acid sensory mechanisms across eukaryotic species.

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