S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase activity and utilization of exogenous putrescine are enhanced in colon cancer cells stimulated to grow by EGF

V. Milovic, L. Turhanowa, F. A. Fares, A. Lerner, W. F. Caspary, J. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Polyamines spermidine and spermine and their precursor putrescine are necessary for cell growth. Polyamine content is high in rapidly growing malignant cells, due to enhanced putrescine synthesis by ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), and increased uptake. In contrast to other cells of the body, colon cancer cells are exposed to high putrescine concentrations from the lumen. Aims: To investigate the utilization of luminal putrescine in colon cancer, we studied the effect of a potent mitogen, epidermal growth factor (EGF), on the activity of the enzyme responsible for putrescine conversion, S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMDC), in Caco-2 cells. Methods: Cell counts, ODC and SAMDC activities and intracellular polyamines were evaluated in the presence and absence of exogenous putrescine in concentrations resembling those normally present in the colonic lumen. Results: ODC and SAMDC activity and putrescine uptake were strongly stimulated by EGF. Both synthesized and absorbed putrescine was rapidly converted to spermidine and spermine after EGF. Conversion pattern was identical in the cells stimulated with EGF only and EGF plus exogenous putrescine, indicating that, if stimulated to proliferate, colon cancer cells utilize the entire available putrescine pool. SAMDC inhibitor, methylglyoxal- bis-guanylhydrazone, induced growth arrest which was not reversed by exogenous putrescine, but only by high concentrations of spermidine. Conclusion: Enhanced proliferation in colon cancer cells is associated with increased SAMDC activity and rapid conversion of putrescine to spermidine and spermine. SAMDC might be a preferable target for therapeutic attempts to impair growth by reducing intracellular polyamine pools in colon cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-954
Number of pages8
JournalZeitschrift fur Gastroenterologie
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell culture
  • Colon cancer
  • Epidermal growth factor
  • Polyamines
  • Putrescine
  • Spermidine
  • Spermine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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