Altered spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase activity as a mechanism of cellular resistance to bis(ethyl)polyamine analogues

Diane E. McCloskey, Anthony E. Pegg

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To develop a model system to investigate mechanisms of antiproliferative action of bis(ethyl)polyamine analogues, intermittent analogue treatments followed by recovery periods in drug-free medium were used to select an N1,N12-bis(ethyl)spermine-resistant derivative of the Chinese hamster ovary cell line C55.7. The resulting C55.7Res line was at least 10-fold resistant to N1,N12-bis(ethyl)spermine and N1,N11-bis(ethyl)norspermine. The stability of the resistance in the absence of selection pressure was ≥9 months, indicating that a heritable genotypic change was responsible for the resistance phenotype. Polyamine transport alterations and multi-drug resistance were eliminated as causes of the resistance. Spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) activity and regulation were altered in C55.7Res cells as basal activity was decreased, and no activity induction resulted from exposure to analogue concentrations, which caused 300-fold enzyme induction in parental cells. SSAT mRNA levels in the absence and presence of analogue were unchanged, but no SSAT protein was detected in C55.7Res cells. A point mutation, which results in the change leucine156 (a fully conserved residue) to phenylalanine, was identified in the C55.7Res SSAT cDNA. Expression of wtSSAT activity in C55.7Res cells restored sensitivity to bis(ethyl)polyamines. These results provided definitive evidence that SSAT activity is a critical target of the cytotoxic action of these analogues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28708-28714
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 15 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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