Post-transcriptional regulation of the content of spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase by N1N12-bis(ethyl)spermine

L. Parry, R. Balana Fouce, A. E. Pegg

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52 Scopus citations


Spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) is the rate-limiting enzyme for the degradation and excretion of polyamines in mammalian cells, and its activity is known to be increased enormously on exposure to polyamines and polyamine analogues. The mechanism by which such an analogue, BESM [N1N12-bis(ethyl)spermine], increases the content of SSAT was investigated by transfecting COS-7 cells with plasmids containing SSAT cDNA in the pEUK expression vector. Despite a large increase in mRNA production, there was only a very small increase in SSAT activity in the transfected cells. When BESM was added at 36 h after transfection, there was a large and very rapid increase in SSAT protein amounting to 380-fold in 12 h without any increase in the mRNA. SSAT protein turned over very rapidly, with a half-life of about 20 min. In the presence of BESM, this turnover was greatly reduced, and the half-life increased to more than 13 h. However, this increase was not sufficient to account for all of the increase in SSAT protein, suggesting that there is also regulation of the translation of the mRNA by BESM. Further evidence for such translation regulation was obtained by studying the polysomal distribution of the SSAT mRNA. In the absence of BESM, most of the mRNA was present in fractions which sedimented more slowly than the monoribosome peak. In BESM-treated cells, a significant proportion of the SSAT mRNA was moved into the small-polysome region of the gradient. The expression of SSAT and the effects of BESM on the polysomal distribution of SSAT mRNA were not affected by the 5'- or 3'-untranslated regions of the mRNA, since constructs which lacked all of these regions gave similar results to constructs containing the entire mRNA sequence. These results show that the increased transcription of the SSAT gene that occurs in the presence of polyamine analogues such as BESM is not sufficient for SSAT expression and that post-transcriptional regulation is critical for the control of SSAT content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-458
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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