Human erythrocytes contain only trace amounts of polyamines and lack active polyamine biosynthetic enzymes. A remarkable increase in polyamine content, and in the activity of ornithine and S-adenosyl-L-methionine decarboxylases, is noted in synchronous cultures of the malarial parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Polyamine biosynthesis reached peak values during the early trophozoite stage, whereas nucleic acid and protein synthesis occurred later in mature trophozoites. DL-alpha-Difluoromethylornithine, an irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, did not interfere with merozoite invasion and with ring-form development, but prevented the transformation of trophozoites to schizonts. Concomitantly, the synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids was significantly inhibited. These inhibitory effects could be readily reversed by the diamine putrescine. Macromolecular synthesis and schizogony were normal when 5-10 mM-DL-alpha-difluoromethylornithine and 0.1 mM-putrescine were added to the cultures simultaneously.

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