JOURNAL ARTICLE

Polyamine acetylation modulates polyamine metabolic flux, a prelude to broader metabolic consequences

Debora L Kramer, Paula Diegelman, Jason Jell, Slavoljub Vujcic, Salim Merali, Carl W Porter
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2008 February 15, 283 (7): 4241-51
18089555
Recent studies suggest that overexpression of the polyamine-acetylating enzyme spermidine/spermine N(1)-acetyltransferase (SSAT) significantly increases metabolic flux through the polyamine pathway. The concept derives from the observation that SSAT-induced acetylation of polyamines gives rise to a compensatory increase in biosynthesis and presumably to increased flow through the pathway. Despite the strength of this deduction, the existence of heightened polyamine flux has not yet been experimentally demonstrated. Here, we use the artificial polyamine precursor 4-fluoro-ornithine to measure polyamine flux by tracking fluorine unit permeation of polyamine pools in human prostate carcinoma LNCaP cells. Conditional overexpression of SSAT was accompanied by a massive increase in intracellular and extracellular acetylated spermidine and by a 6-20-fold increase in biosynthetic enzyme activities. In the presence of 300 microM 4-fluoro-ornithine, SSAT overexpression led to the sequential appearance of fluorinated putrescine, spermidine, acetylated spermidine, and spermine. As fluorinated polyamines increased, endogenous polyamines decreased, so that the total polyamine pool size remained relatively constant. At 24 h, 56% of the spermine pool in the induced SSAT cells was fluorine-labeled compared with only 12% in uninduced cells. Thus, SSAT induction increased metabolic flux by approximately 5-fold. Flux could be interrupted by inhibition of polyamine biosynthesis but not by inhibition of polyamine oxidation. Overall, the findings are consistent with a paradigm whereby flux is initiated by SSAT acetylation of spermine and particularly spermidine followed by a marked increase in key biosynthetic enzymes. The latter sustains the flux cycle by providing a constant supply of polyamines for subsequent acetylation by SSAT. The broader metabolic implications of this futile metabolic cycling are discussed in detail.

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