Investigations of the mechanism by which mammalian cell growth is inhibited by N1N12-bis(ethyl)spermine

L. Albanese, R. J. Bergeron, A. E. Pegg

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35 Scopus citations


N1N12-Bis(ethyl)spermine (BESM) and related compounds are powerful inhibitors of cell growth that may have potential as anti-neoplastic agents. The mechanism by which these compounds bring about their effects was investigated by using variant cell lines in which processes thought to be altered by these agents are perturbed. Comparisons between the response of these cells and of their parental equivalents to BESM, N1N11-bis(ethyl)norspermine, N1N14-bis(ethyl)homospermine and N1N8 bis(ethyl)spermidine were then made. It was found that D-R cells, an L1210-derived line that over-expresses ornithine decarboxylase, were not resistant to these compounds. This indicates that the decrease in ornithine decarboxylase is not critical for the action of the compounds on cell growth. Furthermore, although polyamine levels were decreased in the D-R cells, the content was not totally depleted, indicating that such depletion is also not essential for the anti-proliferative effect. Two cell lines lacking mitochondrial DNA (human 143B206 cells and chicken DU3 cells) did not differ in sensitivity to BESM from their parental 143BTK- and DU24 cells. Furthermore, the inhibition of respiration in L1210 cells in response to BESM developed more slowly than the inhibition of growth. Thus it appears that the inhibitions of mitochondrial DNA synthesis and of mitochondrial respiration are also not primary factors in the anti-proliferative effects of these polyamine analogues. The inhibition of growth did, however, correlate with the intracellular accumulation of the analogues. It appears that the bis(ethyl)polyamine derivatives act by binding to intracellular target molecules and preventing macromolecular synthesis. The decline in normal polyamines may facilitate such binding, but is not essential for growth arrest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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