Three out of four different mycoplasma strains analysed for the polyamine contents contained relatively high concentrations of putrescine, cadaverine, spermidine and spermine. In addition to ornithine decarboxylase (EC 4.1.1.17) activity, the mycoplasmas also exhibited comparable or higher lysine decarboxylase (EC 4.1.1.18) activity fully resistant to the action of 2-difluoromethylornithine, an irreversible inhibitor of eukaryotic ornithine decarboxylase. 2-Difluoromethylornithine did not modify the polyamine pattern of actively growing mycoplasmas. Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells and L1210 mouse leukemia cells infected with any of the four mycoplasma strains contained, in addition to putrescine, spermidine and spermine, and also easily measurable concentrations of cadaverine; the latter diamine was absent in uninfected cultures. When the infected cells were exposed to difluoromethylornithine, the accumulation of cadaverine was markedly enhanced. The modification of cellular polyamine pattern by mycoplasmas, especially in the presence of inhibitors of eukaryotic ornithine decarboxylase, could conceivably be used as an indicator of mycoplasma infection in cultured animal cells.

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