Polyamine catabolism in rodent and human cells in culture

S. W. Carper, M. E. Tome, D. J.M. Fuller, J. R. Chen, P. M. Harari, E. W. Gerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


N1-Acetylspermidine (N1AcSpd) accumulates in late exponential phase, or after certain stresses such as heat shock, in both human tumour (A549) and rodent (HTC, CHO) cells, grown in medium containing an inhibitor of the FAD-dependent polyamine oxidase (PAO). Inhibition of PAO has little effect on cell growth or on the cellular content of the major polyamines, putrescine, spermidine or spermine, found in proliferating cells in culture, but decreases cellular putrescine content in heat shocked cells. Putrescine and spermidine are generated when N1AcSpd or N1-acetylspermine (N1AcSpm) respectively is added to either human or rodent cells depleted of the former amines by α-difluoromethylornithine. N1AcSpm is formed in polyamine-depleted human A549 cells when N1AcSpd is added to cultures treated with the PAO inhibitor. This reaction does not occur in either rodent line, suggesting that N1AcSpd can be converted directly into N1AcSpm in human, but not rodent, cells under specific conditions. The data presented demonstrate that a variety of human and rodent cells express PAO activity and catabolize polyamines by a mechanism which includes PAO. PAO activity is of little consequence to proliferating A549, HTC or CHO cells in culture, but does produce new putrescine in both late-exponential-phase and heat-shocked cells. These findings suggest that polyamine catabolism is part of a general response of both rodent and human cells to a variety of environmental and physiological stresses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-294
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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