Induction of spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase activity in Chinese-hamster ovary cells by N1N11-bis(ethyl)norspermidine and related compounds

A. E. Pegg, R. Pakala, R. J. Bergeron

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33 Scopus citations


Treatment of Chinese-hamster ovary (CHO) cells with N1N11-bis(ethyl)norspermine (BENSM) led to a very large increase in the activity of spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase (SAT), which rose by about 600-fold within 48 h. Smaller, but still very large increases, were also produced in decreasing order of potency by 3,7,11,15,19-penta-azaheneicosane, N1N12-bis(ethyl)spermine and by N1N14-bis(ethyl)homospermine. The rise in acetyltransferase activity was due to an increase in enzyme protein, as indicated by immunoblotting using antibodies directed against rat liver SAT. There was an increase in the content of mRNA for SAT, indicating that BENSM regulates the level of enzyme protein partly by means of a change in transcription or stability of the mRNA. There was also a decreased rate of degradation of the protein in CHO cells treated with the drug. This may be due to the binding of BENSM, which is a competitive inhibitor of the enzyme with a K(i) of 120 μM. Exposure to BENSM led to an increased conversion of spermidine into N1-acetylspermidine and putrescine, a rapid fall in the content of intracellular polyamides and the excretion from the cell of putrescine, N1-acetylspermidine and spermidine. When polyamine oxidase activity in the treated cells was blocked, increases in N1-acetylspermidine and N1-acetylspermine were much greater, and the formulation of putrescine was prevented. These results indicate that the induction of SAT facilitates the degradation of spermine and spermidine to putrescine and the subsequent excretion of putrescine from the cell. When the degradation of the N1-acetyl derivatives by polyamine oxidase is blocked, the cells excrete N1-acetylspermidine instead of putrescine. CHO cells also contained and excreted N8-acetylspermidine, but its synthesis was not increased in cells treated with BENSM, confirming data obtained in vitro that SAT does not produce this derivative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-338
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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