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

Antiproliferative effect of spermine depletion by N-cyclohexyl-1,3-diaminopropane in human breast cancer cells.

Spermine is often the most abundant polyamine in human tumors such as breast carcinomas. However, its specific role in tumor biology is still uncertain, since inhibitors of ornithine decarboxylase such as alpha-difluoromethylornithine depress cell growth while leaving spermine content mostly unaffected. We have assessed the specific role of spermine in breast cancer cell growth using N-cyclohexyl-1,3-diaminopropane (C-DAP), a potent spermine synthase inhibitor. In ZR-75-1 cells, C-DAP decreased net cell growth after 14 days by 65% at 50 microm, with an IC50 of about 5 microM, and was about 10 times more potent than N-(n-butyl)-1,3-diaminopropane, another spermine synthase inhibitor. C-DAP acted as a specific inhibitor of spermine biosynthesis, since (a) it depleted spermine content while causing an equal or greater accumulation of spermidine on a molar basis, (b) it rapidly induced S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase activity and the accumulation of its products due to relief of spermine-dependent inhibition of enzyme expression, and (c) exogenous spermine (1 microM) completely reversed C-DAP-induced growth inhibition. C-DAP and related compounds were accumulated, at least in part, through a mechanism distinct from the polyamine transport system, while also blocking putrescine and spermidine uptake with various potencies. Reversibility of C-DAP-induced growth inhibition by exogenous spermine was progressively lost on prolonged treatment, in association with marked morphological changes. In 4 different human breast cancer cell lines (ZR-75-1, T47-D, MCF-7, and MDA-MB-231), relative growth sensitivity to C-DAP was inversely related to the extent of spermidine accumulation caused by spermine synthase inhibition, suggesting that spermidine overaccumulation can functionally replace spermine. Interestingly, C-DAP strongly potentiated growth inhibition caused by alpha-difluoromethylornithine in all cell lines tested by preventing conversion of residual spermidine to spermine, indicating that spermine synthesis limits alpha-difluoromethylornithine action and that under some critical threshold, spermidine cannot fulfill cellular needs for spermine. Thus, spermine plays specific and important functions in breast tumor growth, and spermine synthase inhibitors could markedly improve the therapeutic effectiveness of existing polyamine depletion strategies, especially in spermine-rich tumors.[1]


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