Inhibitors of polyamine synthesis (alpha-methylornithine and 1,3-diaminopropan-2-ol) were used to study the relationship between polyamine synthesis and specific methylations of tRNA in Dictyostelium discoideum during vegetative growth. Polyamine concentrations were found to be 10 mM for putrescine, 1.6 mM for spermidine and 7 mM for 1,3-diaminopropane throughout the growth stage. On treatment of growing amoebae with alpha-methylornithine or with 1,3-diaminopropan-2-ol (each at 5 mM), the syntheses of putrescine, spermidine and 1,3-diaminopropane were arrested within 4h. After polyamine synthesis had ceased, the incorporation of methyl groups into tRNA was considerably decreased under conditions that had no effect on the incorporation of uridine into tRNA, or on net syntheses of protein and of DNA. The following nucleosides in tRNA were concerned: 1 methyladenosine, 5-methylcytidine, 7-methylguanosine, 2-methylguanosine, N2N2-dimethylguanosine and 5-methyluridine (ribosylthymine). The corresponding tRNA methyltransferases, determined in Mg2+-free enzyme extracts, proved to be inactive unless polyamines were added. Putrescine and/or spermidine at concentrations of 10 mM or 1-2 mM respectively stimulate the transmethylation reaction in vitro to a maximal rate and to an optimal extent at exactly the same concentrations as found in vegetative cells. In contrast, 1,3-diaminopropane, which is formed from spermidine, does not affect the methylation of tRNA in vitro at physiological concentrations. Putrescine and/or spermidine stabilize the tRNA methyltransferases in crude extracts in the presence but not in the absence of the substrate tRNA. The results support the view that S-adenosylmethionine-dependent transmethylation reactions can be regulated by alterations of polyamine concentrations in vivo.
- © 1982 London: The Biochemical Society