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Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Jul;27(13):4953-67. Epub 2007 May 7.

Enhanced polyamine catabolism alters homeostatic control of white adipose tissue mass, energy expenditure, and glucose metabolism.

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Department of Medicine, University of Kuopio, P.O. Box 1777, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland.


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha (PGC-1 alpha) is an attractive candidate gene for type 2 diabetes, as genes of the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) pathway are coordinatively downregulated by reduced expression of PGC-1 alpha in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue of patients with type 2 diabetes. Here we demonstrate that transgenic mice with activated polyamine catabolism due to overexpression of spermidine/spermine N(1)-acetyltransferase (SSAT) had reduced white adipose tissue (WAT) mass, high basal metabolic rate, improved glucose tolerance, high insulin sensitivity, and enhanced expression of the OXPHOS genes, coordinated by increased levels of PGC-1 alpha and 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in WAT. As accelerated polyamine flux caused by SSAT overexpression depleted the ATP pool in adipocytes of SSAT mice and N(1),N(11)-diethylnorspermine-treated wild-type fetal fibroblasts, we propose that low ATP levels lead to the induction of AMPK, which in turn activates PGC-1 alpha in WAT of SSAT mice. Our hypothesis is supported by the finding that the phenotype of SSAT mice was reversed when the accelerated polyamine flux was reduced by the inhibition of polyamine biosynthesis in WAT. The involvement of polyamine catabolism in the regulation of energy and glucose metabolism may offer a novel target for drug development for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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