Gene expression and cell growth rely on the intracellular concentration of amino acids, which in metazoans depends on extracellular amino acid availability and transmembrane transport. To investigate the impact of extracellular amino acid concentrations on the expression of a concentrative amino acid transporter, we overexpressed the main kidney proximal tubule luminal neutral amino acid transporter B0AT1-collectrin (SLC6A19-TMEM27) in MDCK cell epithelia. Exogenously expressed proteins co-localized at the luminal membrane and mediated neutral amino acid uptake. However, the transgenes were lost over few cell culture passages. In contrast, the expression of a control transgene remained stable. To test whether this loss was due to inappropriately high amino acid uptake, freshly transduced MDCK cell lines were cultivated either with physiological amounts of amino acids or with the high concentration found in standard cell culture media. Expression of exogenous transporters was unaffected by physiological amino acid concentration in the media. Interestingly, mycoplasma infection resulted in a significant increase in transgene expression and correlated with the rapid metabolism of L-arginine. However, L-arginine metabolites were shown to play no role in transgene expression. In contrast, activation of the GCN2 pathway revealed by an increase in eIF2α phosphorylation may trigger transgene derepression. Taken together, high extracellular amino acid concentration provided by cell culture media appears to inhibit the constitutive expression of concentrative amino acid transporters whereas L-arginine depletion by mycoplasma induces the expression of transgenes possibly via stimulation of the GCN2 pathway.