Polyamines induce the transport in vitro of the precursor of ornithine transcarbamylase (pOTC) into isolated rat liver mitochondria by facilitating its functional binding to these organelles. Comparative studies of the effect on the in vitro transport of pOTC of polyamine derivatives and related compounds have allowed us to establish that: (i) at least two protonated amino groups per molecule are necessary to induce the pOTC transport; (ii) a distance of three -CH2- groups between the amino groups in diamines is enough to induce this effect, although no differences were observed with diamines having distances of three to eight -CH2- groups. Longer distances resulted in a marked decrease of the effect.

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