Pacific University School of Pharmacy, Hillsboro, OR, 97123, USA.
Polyamines are metabolites that play important roles in rapidly proliferating cells, and recent studies have highlighted their critical nature in Leishmania parasites. However, little is known about the function of polyamines in parasites. To address this question, we assessed the effect of polyamine depletion in Leishmania donovani mutants lacking ornithine decarboxylase (Δodc) or spermidine synthase (Δspdsyn). Intracellular putrescine levels depleted rapidly in Δodc mutants and accumulated in Δspdsyn mutants, while spermidine levels were maintained at low but stable levels in both cell lines. Putrescine depletion in the Δodc mutants led to cell rounding, immediate cessation of proliferation, and loss of viability, while putrescine-rich Δspdsyn mutants displayed an intermediate proliferation phenotype and were able to arrest in a quiescent-like state for 6 weeks. Supplementation of Δodc mutants with spermidine had little effect on cell proliferation and morphology but enabled parasites to persist for 14 weeks. Thus, putrescine is not only essential as precursor for spermidine formation but also critical for parasite proliferation, morphology, and viability.
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