The molecular cloning of genes that encode amino acid transporters presents the scientific community with the opportunity to name their gene products using a scheme that could usefully recall the well-defined transport system most similar in properties to the newly identified cloned gene product. To avoid the problem of rising confusion, we propose to take advantage of established designation methods that indicate the types of amino acids transported and the co-substrate ion requirement of their transport. The economy obligated by the necessity to keep the number of symbols in a gene name to a minimum will rarely permit a listing of the full range of substrates, since amino acid transport systems have broad substrate specificities with co-substrate requirements that can differ in a substrate-specific manner. Hence, the use of established systems to codify groups of amino acid transport systems, which allow identification of the substrate range by using 1-3 letters, e.g. A, L or even ASC, could be integrated with a system used to indicate the ion-dependence of transport. The discoverers of transporters are mainly proceeding with commendable reserve and are inviting discussion, a desire which this essay urges be facilitated by more formal arrangements for further planning. These discoverers have also shown, along with an expressed desire for guidance, well-advised spontaneity in making reference to the substrate range, two trends that together suggest that a good set of designations can evolve that will be highly descriptive.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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