HeLa cells were synchronized for S-phase DNA synthesis by the double thymidine-block procedure. A comparison was made of the polyamine content and S-phase DNA synthesis in cells from control cultures and cultures to which an inhibitor of polyamine biosynthesis, alpha-difluoromethylornithine, was added to the synchronization medium. Control cells showed a peak of synchronous DNA synthesis at 3 h and a maximum concentration of polyamines at 6-9 h after release of the second thymidine block. Cells from cultures containing the inhibitor were severely inhibited in the synthesis of DNA and contained no putrescine and only traces of spermidine while the spermine content was lowered by as much as 80%. Supplementation of cultures containing alpha-difluoromethylornithine with a polyamine, at the time of release of the second thymidine block, replenished the intracellular pool of the administered polyamine and partially restored S-phase DNA synthesis, with a lag of 3-6 h. Almost complete restoration of DNA synthesis in cells depleted of polyamines was achieved by the addition of a polyamine to cultures at least 10 h before release of the second thymidine block. The lag in initiation of synchronous S-phase DNA synthesis was eliminated in these cells. It is concluded that reversal by polyamines of the deficiency in S-phase DNA synthesis, in polyamine-depleted HeLa cells, is a time-dependent process indicative of the necessity for the replenishment of replication factors or their organization into an active replication complex.

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