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Eur J Biochem. 2002 Feb;269(3):1033-9.

Rapid caspase-dependent cell death in cultured human breast cancer cells induced by the polyamine analogue N(1),N(11)-diethylnorspermine.

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Department of Animal Physiology, Lund University, Sweden.


The spermine analogue N(1),N(11)-diethylnorspermine (DENSPM) efficiently depletes the cellular pools of putrescine, spermidine and spermine by down-regulating the activity of the polyamine biosynthetic enzymes and up-regulating the activity of the catabolic enzyme spermidine/ spermine N(1)-acetyltransferase (SSAT). In the breast cancer cell line L56Br-C1, treatment with 10 microm DENSPM induced SSAT activity 60 and 240-fold at 24 and 48 h after seeding, respectively, which resulted in polyamine depletion. Cell proliferation appeared to be totally inhibited and within 48 h of treatment, there was an extensive apoptotic response. Fifty percent of the cells were found in the sub-G(1) region, as determined by flow cytometry, and the presence of apoptotic nuclei was morphologically assessed by fluorescence microscopy. Caspase-3 and caspase-9 activities were significantly elevated 24 h after seeding. At 48 h after seeding, caspase-3 and caspase-9 activities were further elevated and at this time point a significant activation of caspase-8 was also found. The DENSPM-induced cell death was dependent on the activation of the caspases as it was inhibited by the general caspase inhibitor Z-Val-Ala-Asp fluoromethyl ketone. The results are discussed in the light of the L56Br-C1 cells containing mutated BRCA1 and p53, two genes involved in DNA repair.

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