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FEMS Yeast Res. 2010 Nov;10(7):928-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1567-1364.2010.00675.x. Epub 2010 Sep 14.

Life without putrescine: disruption of the gene-encoding polyamine oxidase in Ustilago maydis odc mutants.

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Departamento de Ingeniería Genética, Unidad Irapuato, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico.


In previous communications the essential role of spermidine in Ustilago maydis was demonstrated by means of the disruption of the genes encoding ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and spermidine synthase (SPE). However, the assignation of specific roles to each polyamine in different cellular functions was not possible because the spermidine added to satisfy the auxotrophic requirement of odc/spe double mutants is partly back converted into putrescine. In this study, we have approached this problem through the disruption of the gene-encoding polyamine oxidase (PAO), required for the conversion of spermidine into putrescine, and the construction of odc/pao double mutants that were unable to synthesize putrescine by either ornithine decarboxylation or retroconversion from spermidine. Phenotypic analysis of the mutants provided evidence that putrescine is only an intermediary in spermidine biosynthesis, and has no direct role in cell growth, dimorphic transition, or any other vital function of U. maydis. Nevertheless, our results show that putrescine may play a role in the protection of U. maydis against salt and osmotic stress, and possibly virulence. Evidence was also obtained that the retroconversion of spermidine into putrescine is not essential for U. maydis growth but may be important for its survival under natural conditions.

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