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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 May 19;271(3):559-64.

Polyamines: mysterious modulators of cellular functions.

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Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiba University, 1-33 Yayoi-cho, Inage-ku, Chiba, 263-8522, Japan.


In recent years the functions of polyamines (putrescine, spermidine, and spermine) have been studied at the molecular level. Polyamines can modulate the functions of RNA, DNA, nucleotide triphosphates, proteins, and other acidic substances. A major part of the cellular functions of polyamines can be explained through a structural change of RNA which occurs at physiological concentrations of Mg(2+) and K(+) because most polyamines exist in a polyamine-RNA complex within cells. Polyamines were found to modulate protein synthesis at several different levels including stimulation of special kinds of protein synthesis, stimulation of the assembly of 30 S ribosomal subunits and stimulation of Ile-tRNA formation. Effects of polyamines on ion channels have also been reported and are gradually being clarified at the molecular level.

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