Cell growth and differentiation require the presence of optimal concentrations of polyamines. Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) catalyses the first and rate-controlling step in polyamine synthesis. In studies using cultures of Ehrlich ascites-tumour cells, we have shown that the expression of ODC is subject to feedback regulation by the polyamines. A decrease in the cellular polyamine concentration results in a compensatory increase in the synthesis of ODC, whereas an increase in polyamine concentration results in suppression of ODC synthesis. These changes in ODC synthesis were attributed to changes in the efficiency of ODC mRNA translation, because the steady-state amount of ODC mRNA remained constant. We now show that the number of ribosomes associated with ODC mRNA is low, and that the increase in ODC mRNA translation takes place without a shift in the distribution of ODC mRNA towards larger polysomes. This finding indicates that the polyamines regulate the efficiency of ODC mRNA translation by co-ordinately affecting the rates of initiation and elongation. By analysing ODC mRNA translation in vitro, using a rabbit reticulocyte lysate, polyadenylated RNA from a cell line with an amplified ODC gene, and a monospecific anti-ODC antibody, we also show that spermidine, but not putrescine, exerts a direct regulatory effect on ODC synthesis.
- © 1989 London: The Biochemical Society