Transgenic mice expressing proteins altering polyamine levels in a tissue-specific manner have considerable promise for evaluation of the roles of polyamines in normal, hypertrophic and neoplastic growth. This short review summarizes the available transgenic models. Mice with large increases in ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase or antizyme, a protein regulating polyamine synthesis by reducing polyamine transport and ODC in the heart, have been produced using constructs in which the protein is expressed from the α-myosin heavy-chain promoter. These mice are useful in studies of the role of polyamines in hypertrophic growth. Expression from keratin promoters has been used to target increased synthesis of ODC, spermidine/spermine-N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) and antizyme in the skin. Such expression of ODC leads to an increased sensitivity to chemical and UV carcinogenesis. Expression of antizyme inhibits carcinogenesis in skin and forestomach. Expression of SSAT increases the incidence of skin papillomas and their progression to carcinomas in response to a two-stage carcinogenesis protocol. These results establish the importance of polyamines in carcinogenesis and neoplastic growth and these transgenic mice will be valuable experimental tools to evaluate the importance of polyamines in mediating responses to oncogenes and studies of cancer chemoprevention.
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