Polyamines are small, naturally occurring polycations that are essential for normal cell growth and development. Maintaining a homeostatic level of both the polyamine pathway enzymes and the levels of the polyamines putrescine, spermidine and spermine is important because the dysregulation of the polyamine pathway has been associated with physical anomalies including cancer, Parkinson's disease, Snyder-Robinson syndrome and aging in mammals. To date, little is understood regarding how the polyamine pathway maintains polyamine homeostasis in the fly, an emerging model for polyamine studies. The aim of these studies was to better characterize how the downregulation or ablation of the polyamine biosynthetic enzymes ornithine decarboxylase, spermidine synthase and spermine synthase influence the expression of the genes coding for other polyamine pathway enzymes and the levels of the polyamines themselves utilizing the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster. We demonstrate the complexities of the polyamine metabolic pathway and show that downregulation of any of these polyamine pathway enzymes can lead to an array of changes in other parts of the pathway as well as alter the cellular levels of polyamines themselves. These data highlight the complex nature of regulation of this pathway and underscore the need to better understand its self-regulation in this and other model systems.
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