Correlation between transglutaminase activity and polyamine levels in human neuroblastoma cells. Effect of retinoic acid and α-difluoromethylornithine

Gennaro Melino, Maria Grazia farrace, Maria Paola Ceru', Mauro Piacentini

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The human neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-BE can be induced to differentiate by retinoic acid (RA) or by α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO). The former inducer produces neurite outgrowth, 60% reduction of growth rate, overexpression of neural antigens, and enhanced γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and acetylcholinesterase levels. In contrast, DFMO causes cell body elongation, complete growth inhibition, and higher binding of antibodies directed against neuroectodermal antigens. Polyamine metabolism is also differently affected by the two agents. In particular a large spermine catabolism is induced by RA, while DFMO treatment leads to a small increase in the level of this compound. The neural differentiation induced by RA is accompanied by a marked increase in transglutaminase activity and its induction is paralleled by a transient increase of putrescine and spermidine. The putrescine and spermidine depletion determined by DFMO is accompanied instead by a large inhibition of transglutaminase activity. The inhibiting effect of DFMO treatment on transglutaminase is reversed by the addition of 1 mM putrescine to the culture medium. In the presence of both RA and DFMO a mixed morphological and biochemical pattern is observed. The possibility that the expression of transglutaminase associated to cellular differentiation may be modulated by the level of its substrates is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-445
Number of pages17
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1988


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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