Polyamines differentially modulate the transcription of growth-associated genes in human colon carcinoma cells

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Increases in the transcription of genes important to cell growth frequently occur in concert with increases in intracellular polyamines after a mitogenic stimulus. Previously, we have shown that depletion of intracellular polyamines by 2-difluoromethylornithine in COLO 320 cells resulted in a significant decrease in c-myc mRNA steady state levels. We demonstrate here that polyamines have a predominant role in the regulation of transcription of c-myc, c-fos, and histone 2A, while they appear to have both a transcriptional and post-transcriptional role in expression of c-myb, ornithine decarboxylase, and β-actin mRNA levels. We further analyzed the effect of spermidine in overall and specific RNA transcription in isolated nuclei from COLO 320 cells. In nuclei from control cells, the addition of spermidine resulted in a 3-4 increase in overall [α-32P]UTP incorporation and a 4-8-fold increase in c-myc, c-fos, and histone 2A transcription. In contrast, ornithine decarboxylase and c-myb gene transcription were unaffected. Furthermore, in nuclei from 2-difluoromethylornithine-treated COLO 320 cells, spermidine addition resulted in less than a 2-fold increase in RNA transcription and had no effect on any specific gene analyzed. These results indicate that polyamines may have an important role in the transcription of specific growth related genes, especially c-myc and c-fos, and this role may be one mechanism by which polyamines modulate cell growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8922-8927
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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