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Biochem J. 2003 Feb 15;370(Pt 1):19-28.

Genomic identification and biochemical characterization of the mammalian polyamine oxidase involved in polyamine back-conversion.

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Grace Cancer Drug Center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA.


In the polyamine back-conversion pathway, spermine and spermidine are first acetylated by spermidine/spermine N1 -acetyltransferase (SSAT) and then oxidized by polyamine oxidase (PAO) to produce spermidine and putrescine respectively. Although PAO was first purified more than two decades ago, the protein has not yet been linked to genomic sequences. In the present study, we apply a BLAST search strategy to identify novel oxidase sequences located on human chromosome 10 and mouse chromosome 7. Homologous mammalian cDNAs derived from human brain and mouse mammary tumour were deduced to encode proteins of approx. 55 kDa having 82% sequence identity. When either cDNA was transiently transfected into HEK-293 cells, intracellular spermine pools decreased by approx. 30%, whereas spermidine increased 2-4-fold. Lysates of human PAO cDNA-transfected HEK-293 cells, but not vector-transfected cells, rapidly oxidized N1-acetylspermine to spermidine. Substrate specificity determinations with the lysate assay revealed a preference ranking of N1-acetylspermine= N1-acetylspermidine> N1,N12-diacetylspermine>>spermine; spermidine was not acted upon. This ranking is identical to that reported for purified PAO and distinctly different from the recently identified spermine oxidase (SMO), which prefers spermine over N1-acetylspermine. Monoethyl- and diethylspermine analogues also served as substrates for PAO, and were internally cleaved adjacent to a secondary amine. We deduce that the present oxidase sequences are those of the FAD-dependent PAO involved in the polyamine back-conversion pathway. In Northern blot analysis, PAO mRNA was much less abundant in HEK-293 cells than SMO or SSAT mRNA, and all three were differentially induced in a similar manner by selected polyamine analogues. The identification of PAO sequences, together with the recently identified SMO sequences, provides new opportunities for understanding the dynamics of polyamine homoeostasis and for interpreting metabolic and cellular responses to clinically-relevant polyamine analogues and inhibitors.

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