Nuclear aggregates of polyamines

IUBMB Life. 2006 Feb;58(2):75-82. doi: 10.1080/15216540600662525.


Nuclear aggregates of polyamines (NAPs) are cyclic supramolecular compounds made of polyamines and phosphate groups. Three different aggregates, s-NAP, m-NAP and l-NAP, with a molecular weight of 1035, 5175 and 9552 Da, respectively, are described. These molecules interact with genomic DNA. In consequence of this interaction, NAPs not only protect DNA from nucleases with extraordinarily greater efficiency than single polyamines (spermine, spermidine and putrescine), but also induce noticeable changes in DNA condensation status, as shown by temperature-dependent modifications of DNA electrophoretic properties. The biochemical characterization of these compounds has allowed the definition of a structural model for each NAP. According to this model, five s-NAPs assemble together to form a m-NAP unit. We hypothesize that the complexation of s-NAP into m-NAP favours the transition to Z-DNA through the progressive widening of DNA strands and the exposure of bases. We propose that NAPs, by wrapping the DNA helixes, form supramolecular tunnel-like structures that confer efficient protection without affecting DNA elasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Polyamines / chemistry
  • Polyamines / metabolism*


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Polyamines
  • DNA