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J Cell Mol Med. 2005 Oct-Dec;9(4):865-82.

Animal disease models generated by genetic engineering of polyamine metabolism.

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Department of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, AI Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Kuopio, Finland.


The polyamines putrescine, spermidine and spermine are natural components of all living cells. Although their exact cellular functions are still largely unknown, a constant supply of these compounds is required for mammalian cell proliferation to occur. Studies with animals displaying genetically altered polyamine metabolism have shown that polyamines are intimately involved in the development of diverse tumors, putrescine apparently has specific role in skin physiology and neuroprotection and the higher polyamines spermidine and spermine are required for the maintenance of pancreatic integrity and liver regeneration. In the absence of ongoing polyamine biosynthesis, murine embryogenesis does not proceed beyond the blastocyst stage. The last years have also witnessed the appearance of the first reports linking genetically altered polyamine metabolism to human diseases.

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