Treatment of rats with spermidine, spermine or sym-norspermidine led to a substantial induction of spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase activity in liver, kidney and lung. The increase in this enzyme, which was determined independently of other acetylases by using a specific antiserum, accounted for all of the increased acetylase activity in extracts from rats treated with these polyamines. Spermine was the most active inducer, and the greatest effect was seen in liver. Liver spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase activity was increased about 300-fold within 6 h of treatment with 0.3 mmol/kg doses of spermine; activity in kidney increased 30-fold and activity in the lung 15-fold under these conditions. The increased spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase activity led to a large increase in the liver putrescine content and a decline in spermidine. These changes are due to the oxidation by polyamine oxidase of the N1-acetylspermidine formed by the acetyltransferase. Our results indicated that spermidine was the preferred substrate in vivo of the acetylase/oxidase pathway for the conversion of the higher polyamines into putrescine. The induction of the spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase by polyamines may provide a mechanism by which excess polyamines can be removed.

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