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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Spermine triggers the activation of caspase-3 in a cell-free model of apoptosis.

Polyamines are ubiquitous organic cations required for cell proliferation. However, some evidence suggested that their excessive accumulation can induce apoptosis. We show here that, in a post-nuclear extract from U937 cells, the addition of spermine triggers the death program, represented by cytochrome c exit from mitochondria, the dATP-dependent processing of pro-caspase-3 and the onset of caspase activity. Spermine is more effective than spermidine, whereas putrescine has no effect. Polyamine acetylation abolishes their pro-apoptotic power. These data demonstrate a direct mechanism responsible for polyamine toxicity and also suggest that an excessive elevation of free polyamines could be involved in the transduction of a death signal.[1]


  1. Spermine triggers the activation of caspase-3 in a cell-free model of apoptosis. Stefanelli, C., Bonavita, F., Stanic', I., Pignatti, C., Flamigni, F., Guarnieri, C., Caldarera, C.M. FEBS Lett. (1999) [Pubmed]
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