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Amino Acids. 2012 Feb;42(2-3):427-40. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-1013-0. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

The activation of hepatic and muscle polyamine catabolism improves glucose homeostasis.

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Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, A. I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, Biocenter Kuopio, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Campus, P.O. Box 1627, 70211, Kuopio, Finland.


The mitochondrial biogenesis and energy expenditure regulator, PGC-1α, has been previously reported to be induced in the white adipose tissue (WAT) and liver of mice overexpressing spermidine/spermine N (1)-acetyltransferase (SSAT). The activation of PGC-1α in these mouse lines leads to increased number of mitochondria, improved glucose homeostasis, reduced WAT mass and elevated basal metabolic rate. The constant activation of polyamine catabolism produces a futile cycle that greatly reduces the ATP pools and induces 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which in turn activates PGC-1α in WAT. In this study, we have investigated the effects of activated polyamine catabolism on the glucose and energy metabolisms when targeted to specific tissues. For that we used a mouse line overexpressing SSAT under the endogenous SSAT promoter, an inducible SSAT overexpressing mouse model using the metallothionein I promoter (MT-SSAT), and a mouse model with WAT-specific SSAT overexpression (aP2-SSAT). The results demonstrated that WAT-specific SSAT overexpression was sufficient to increase the number of mitochondria, reduce WAT mass and protect the mice from high-fat diet-induced obesity. However, the improvement in the glucose homeostasis is achieved only when polyamine catabolism is enhanced at the same time in the liver and skeletal muscle. Our results suggest that the tissue-specific targeting of activated polyamine catabolism may reveal new possibilities for the development of drugs boosting mitochondrial metabolism and eventually for treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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