Selection of HTC cells in drugs that inhibit ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) has produced two cell lines, HMOA and DH23A/b, that contain increased amounts of more stable ODC. In addition to alterations in ODC, these cells appear to produce modified eukaryotic initiation factor 5A (eIF-5A) at different rates, a reaction that both requires spermidine and is essential for proliferation. Alterations to the modification of eIF-5A by spermidine cannot be accounted for by changes in eIF-5A protein or modified eIF-5A turnover. Deoxyhypusine synthetase activity is similar in the parental and variant cell lines and is unaltered by growth into plateau phase or by spermidine depletion. The increased rate of eIF-5A modification in DH23A/b cells is due to an increased accumulation of the unmodified eIF-5A precursor. Increased precursor accumulation is not due to increased eIF-5A transcription, but rather it can be attributed to a metabolic accumulation caused by growth under conditions of chronically limiting spermidine. Selection using drugs that inhibit ODC apparently does not cause alterations in the eIF-5A modification pathway. These data support the hypothesis that one of the main effects of spermidine depletion is depletion of the modified eIF-5A pool, and that this is a critical factor in the cytostasis often observed after depletion of cellular polyamines.

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