Mammalian polyamine transporters have not thus far been biochemically characterized. Since essential carboxy groups in the polyamine carrier might participate in the transport process, the ability of two different carbodi-imides to affect [3H]spermidine uptake was assessed in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Both the hydrophobic 1,3-dicyclohexylcarbodi-imide (DCC) and the more polar 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodi-imide (EDC) irreversibly inhibited spermidine transport with EC50 values of 11±4 and 96±16 µM after 30 min at 22 °C respectively. Prior treatment with EDC in the absence of substrate decreased both the Vmax and Km for spermidine uptake in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Spermidine-transport inactivation by EDC (1 mM) was temperature-dependent, with 60 and 90% inhibition observed after 10 min at 22 and 37 °C respectively. Spermine (10 µM) almost fully protected against spermidine-transport inactivation by EDC at 22 °C, and decreased the rate of inactivation at 37 °C by about 80%. Putrescine, spermidine and spermine were all effective in protecting against EDC-mediated inactivation of [3H]spermidine and [3H]putrescine uptake at 22 °C with EC50 values estimated at 10, 1 and less than 1 µM respectively. The nucleophile glycine ethyl ester (up to 50 mM) prevented the inhibition brought about by 1 mM EDC. Inhibition by 1 mM EDC was greater at pH 7.2 than at pH 5.8 (89±3 compared with 44±5%), whereas the converse was true for 100 µM DCC (81±3 compared with 92±5%). On the other hand, spermine did not protect against inactivation of spermidine uptake by DCC. Moreover, DCC, but not EDC, inhibited Na+-dependent amino acid uptake. The present data indicate that (i) EDC and DCC inhibit polyamine transport through distinct mechanisms, (ii) substrate binding occludes one or several carboxy groups lying in a polar environment of the carrier and (iii) these carboxyl residues might be activated by EDC to cross-link a neighbouring nucleophile side group, resulting in a conformation of the polyamine carrier which is inactive for transport.
- The Biochemical Society, London © 1996