Two lines of transgenic mice were produced with constitutive expression of antizyme-1 in the heart, driven from the cardiac α-myosin heavy chain promoter. The use of engineered antizyme cDNA in which nucleotide 205 had been deleted eliminated the need for polyamine-mediated frameshifting, normally necessary for translation of antizyme mRNA, and thus ensured the constitutive expression of antizyme. Antizyme-1 is thought to be a major factor in regulating cellular polyamine content, acting both to inhibit ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity and to target it for degradation, as well as preventing polyamine uptake. The two transgenic lines had substantial, but different, levels of antizyme in the heart, as detected by Western blotting and by the ability of heart extracts to inhibit exogenous purified ODC. Despite the high levels of antizyme, endogenous ODC activity was not completely abolished, with 10– 39% remaining, depending on the transgenic line. Additionally, a relatively small decrease (30–32%) in cardiac spermidine content was observed, with levels of putrescine and spermine unaffected. Interestingly, although the two lines of transgenic mice had different antizyme expression levels, they had almost identical cardiac polyamine content. When treated with a single acute dose of isoprenaline (isoproterenol), cardiac ODC activity and putrescine content were substantially increased (by 14-fold and 4.7-fold respectively) in non-transgenic littermate mice, but these increases were completely prevented in the transgenic mice from both founder lines. Prolonged exposure to isoprenaline also caused increases in cardiac ODC activity and polyamine content, as well as an increase in cardiac growth, in non-transgenic mice. Although the increases in cardiac ODC activity and polyamine content were prevented in the transgenic mice from both founder lines, the increase in cardiac growth was unaffected. These transgenic mice thus provide a valuable model system in which to study the importance of polyamine levels in cardiac growth and electrophysiology in response to stress.

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