Effect of polyamines on the activity of malarial alpha-like DNA polymerase

Eur J Biochem. 1990 Aug 17;191(3):633-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1432-1033.1990.tb19168.x.


DNA polymerase from the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum required Mg2+ for activity, Putrescine (1 mM) caused a twofold increase in enzyme activity in the presence of a suboptimal concentration of MgCl2 (2 mM). Spermidine (1.5-2.0 mM) or spermine (0.1-0.3 mM) increased the activity of malarial DNA polymerase, in the presence of 2 mM MgCl2, by factors of 6 and 3-5, respectively. The activity of DNA polymerase from calf thymus or from NIH 3T3 cells transformed by the ras oncogene were not stimulated by these polyamines to the same extent. These findings suggest that in malaria-infected erythrocytes, polyamines, at physiological concentrations, serve as a cofactor for the parasitic alpha-like DNA polymerase. Malarial parasites grown in cultured human erythrocytes did not synthesize DNA after treatment with alpha-difluoromethylornithine, which caused polyamine depletion in the infected cells. DNA synthesis was resumed after adding putrescine to the polyamine-depleted cultures. DNA synthesis was also initiated when actinomycin D was added along with putrescine to polyamine-depleted cells. It thus appears that polyamines are essential for the translation of the DNA polymerase mRNA and that polyamines play an important role in regulating the cell cycle of the malarial parasite.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • DNA Polymerase II / biosynthesis
  • DNA Polymerase II / metabolism*
  • Dactinomycin / pharmacology
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Genes, ras
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / enzymology*
  • Polyamines / pharmacology*
  • Putrescine / pharmacology
  • Spermidine / pharmacology
  • Spermine / pharmacology


  • Polyamines
  • Dactinomycin
  • Spermine
  • DNA
  • DNA Polymerase II
  • Magnesium
  • Spermidine
  • Putrescine