Bacterial growth was measurably slowed by a combination of drugs which inhibit polyamine-biosynthetic enzymes. Addition of DL-alpha-monofluoromethylornithine, which was shown to inactivate irreversibly ornithine decarboxylase extracted from Escherichia coli (Ki = 0.36 mM) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Ki = 0.30 mM), DL-alpha-difluoromethylarginine and dicyclohexylammonium sulphate to cultures of E. coli or P. aeruginosa resulted in a 40 and 70% increase in generation times (decreased growth rates) respectively, which was completely reversed by the addition of 0.1 mM-putrescine plus 0.1 mM-spermidine to the medium. Decreased intracellular polyamine concentrations correlated with increased generation times; putrescine concentration was decreased by 70% in E. coli and 80% in P. aeruginosa, while spermidine concentration was decreased by 50% in E. coli and 95% in P. aeruginosa. Subsequent investigation of the inactivation of the ornithine decarboxylase by monofluoromethylornithine indicated that it was active-site directed, as the normal substrate ornithine slowed the rate of inhibition. Specific interference with polyamine biosynthesis may be a viable approach to control of some bacterial infections.

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