DL-alpha-Difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), an irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, prevented the increases in putrescine and spermidine, but not in spermine, in human erythrocytes infected with the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The addition of putrescine to these polyamine-depleted cultures restored the normal concentrations of spermidine, whereas that of putrescine even exceeded that of the control cultures. DFMO also inhibited the incorporation of radioactive amino acids into the proteins of parasitized erythrocytes. Electrophoresis on polyacrylamide gels revealed that the synthesis of some proteins was completely blocked by DFMO, but the synthesis of others was not affected. DFMO also caused a partial inhibition of RNA synthesis, and DNA synthesis was completely blocked in polyamine-depleted parasitized erythrocytes. It has been suggested that putrescine and/or spermidine are required for the synthesis of certain proteins in parasitized erythrocytes and that at least one of those proteins is related to the synthesis of DNA of the malarial parasite. It appears that polyamines regulate the schizogony process of P. falciparum.

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