Effects of polyamines, polyamine analogs, and inhibitors of protein synthesis on spermidine-spermine N1-acetyltransferase gene expression

M Fogel-Petrovic, S Vujcic, P J Brown, M K Haddox, C W Porter
Biochemistry 1996 November 12, 35 (45): 14436-44
The key polyamine catabolizing enzyme spermidine-spermine N1-acetyltransferase (SSAT) is among the few genes known to be inducible by the natural polyamines. Certain polyamine analogs markedly exaggerate this response and thus provide useful tools for studying the underlying regulatory mechanisms. As shown here, the analog which most potently induces SSAT activity, N1, N11-diethylnorspermine (DENSPM), increases SSAT mRNA in MALME-3M human melanoma cells to a maximum of > 20-fold and immunodetectable SSAT protein to > 300-fold. By comparison, the natural polyamine spermine is far less effective, increasing SSAT mRNA by approximately 3-fold and protein by approximately 7-fold. In particular, the difference in mRNA accumulation by spermine and the analog was shown to be due to differential effects on both gene transcription and mRNA stabilization. Although the analog DENSPM has been regarded as the most potent inducer of SSAT activity and mRNA, we now report that inhibitors of protein synthesis are capable of increasing SSAT mRNA to nearly comparable levels. Inhibitor-induced accumulation in SSAT mRNA was shown to involve increased gene transcription and mRNA stabilization. This suggests that, under basal conditions, SSAT gene expression is suppressed by a labile protein (or proteins). While induction of SSAT mRNA by inhibitors of protein synthesis only occurred at concentrations which blocked protein synthesis, that by DENSPM took place at concentrations which did not. The combination of either protein inhibitor with DENSPM or spermine produced an additive increase in SSAT mRNA. Taken together, these findings suggest the involvement of two separate but possibly converging pathways in the regulation of SSAT mRNA, one mediated by polyamines and their analogs and the other mediated by a labile repressor of SSAT gene transcription and/or mRNA stabilization. In addition to its apparent regulatory importance, induction of SSAT mRNA by inhibitors of protein synthesis represents a potentially useful system for studying the posttranscriptional regulation of this interesting gene.

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