A new method was developed for the assay of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC)-antizyme complex, in which alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO)-inactivated ODC was used to release active ODC competitively from the complex. ODC-antizyme complex was present in the extracts of hepatoma tissue-culture (HTC) cells and of ODC-stabilized variant HMOA cells, in much larger amounts in the latter. Cellular amounts of the complex fluctuated after a change of medium in a similar manner in HTC and HMOA cells, increasing during the period of ODC decay. After treatment with cycloheximide, the decay of ODC-antizyme complex in HMOA cells was more rapid than the decay of free ODC, but it was much slower than the decay of free ODC or complexed ODC in HTC cells. Administration of putrescine caused a rapid increase in the amount of ODC-antizyme complex in both HTC and HMOA cells, but nevertheless the decay of total ODC (free ODC plus ODC-antizyme complex) was more rapid with putrescine than with cycloheximide. These results suggested the possibility that ODC is degraded through complex-formation with antizyme. In contrast with complexed antizyme, free antizyme was not stabilized in HMOA cells.

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