DH23b cells, a variant of the HTC line selected for their resistance to difluoromethylornithine, exhibit defective feedback regulation of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) stability and polyamine transport, and accumulate ODC protein to > 1000 times normal concentrations. The components of the polyamine feedback regulation system have been examined in an attempt to understand these unusual responses. Southern-blot analysis revealed an amplification (approx. 10-fold) in ODC DNA sequence without any concomitant increase in antizyme. Moreover, the amplified ODC sequence contains a single base substitution that results in the conversion of Cys-441 into Trp. This modification has previously been shown to cause ODC stability in HMOA cells. Although antizyme activity has not been noted in DH23b cells, Western-blot analysis revealed the accumulation of antizyme protein to > 50 times that induced in parental HTC cells. This increase is consistent with a 6–9-fold increase in the half-life of antizyme in these cells, a consequence of the inability of the mutant ODC–antizyme complex to be degraded by 26 S proteasome. Associated with the stabilization of antizyme in both DH23b and HMOA cells is the appearance of two additional forms of antizyme protein with apparent molecular masses of 22 and 18.5 kDa. It is suggested that these result from proteolytic removal of discrete fragments from the N-terminal end of antizyme, perhaps an indication of an initial step in rapid antizyme turnover.

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