Regulation of polyamine content in cultured fibroblasts

D. R. Bethell, H. Hibasami, A. E. Pegg

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The content of putrescine and of the polyamines (spermidine and spermine) and the activities of their biosynthetic enzymes were measured in 3T3 mouse fibroblasts and SV40-transformed mouse fibroblasts over the entire period from subculturing in fresh medium until confluence. The transformed cells had a substantially higher content of putrescine and spermidine than the 3T3 cells and higher activities of all of the biosynthetic enzymes. However, the ratio of spermine synthase to spermidine synthase was higher in the 3T3 cells, which correlated with their higher spermine-to-spermidine ratio. All of the biosynthetic enzymes increased in activity during cell growth. Ornithine decarboxylase increased 20-fold with a maximum at 24-36 h after culturing whereas S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase increased 3-fold at the same time. Spermidine synthase increased 10- to 16-fold during the growth period whereas spermine synthase increased 2- to 3-fold. The relative enzyme activities and the changes in total polyamine content suggested that 1) the activity of S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase limited the production of the polyamines and 2) the relative amounts of spermidine and spermine synthase determined the predominant polyamine that the available decarboxylated S-adenosylmethionine is used to synthesize. When 3T3 cells become quiescent at confluence, there was a substantial fall in the intracellular spermidine level because of a greatly increased excretion of spermidine into the medium. Spermine content also fell because there was an increased conversion of spermine into spermidine, which was then excreted. The specific excretion of spermidine did not occur with the transformed SV-3T3 cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C262-C269
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1982

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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