In these experiments we tested the hypothesis that constitutive activation of polyamine (PA) biosynthesis may contribute to mammary carcinogenesis. Spontaneously immortalized normal human MCF-10A breast epithelial cells were infected with the retroviral vector pLOSN containing a cDNA which codes for a truncated and more stable ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the rate-limiting enzyme in PA synthesis. Upon chronic selective pressure with α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) (an irreversible inhibitor of ODC), infected MCF-10A cells exhibited an approximately 250-fold increase in ODC activity, which persisted despite discontinuation of DFMO. ODC-over-expressing MCF-10A cells showed a modest decrease in S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase and an increase in spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase. Analysis of cellular PA profile revealed a selective accumulation of putrescine without alterations in spermidine and spermine contents. Lesser degrees of increased ODC activity were obtained reproducibly by re-exposing the cells to incremental small doses of DFMO. We observed a bell-shaped dose-related positive effect of ODC activity on clonogenicity in soft agar of MCF-10A cells. Since anchorage-dependent growth was actually reduced, such positive influence on this feature of transformation was not a non-specific consequence of a growth advantage provided by ODC over-expression. In addition, we observed a close parallelism between the dose-dependent effects of ODC expression on clonogenicity and activity of the ERK-2 kinase, a central element of the MAPK cascade. Our data demonstrate an interaction between PA and the MAPK signalling pathway and suggest that the latter may be involved in ODC-induced transformation of mammary epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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