Members of the phylum Microspora are all obligate intracellular parasites. Little is known concerning metabolic pathways in these parasites, some of which pose serious problems in immunocompromised patients. We investigated polyamine metabolism in the systemic pathogen Enterocytozoon cuniculi using intact pre-emergent spores, and cell-free preparations. We found both polyamine synthetic and interconversion pathways to be operative, as evidenced by conversion of ornithine into polyamines, and production of spermidine from spermine by pre-emergent spores. Recent developments in the antitumour field have highlighted the ability of bis-ethylated polyamine analogues to reduce polyamine levels and block growth of tumour cells. In light of enhanced polyamine uptake in Enc. cuniculi, we have begun to study bis-aryl 3-7-3 and bis-ethyl oligoamine analogues as leads for chemotherapy of microsporidia.

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