Polyamine involvement in the cell cycle, apoptosis, and autoimmunity

Med Hypotheses. 1995 May;44(5):331-8. doi: 10.1016/0306-9877(95)90259-7.


The polyamines: putrescine, spermidine and spermine, are ubiquitous polycations which have numerous, unique interactions in eukaryotic cells. Polyamines are essential for cell growth, with the bulk of polyamine expression co-ordinated with the cell cycle. The length, charge, and charge distribution of polyamines permit them to interact with large anionic molecules such as DNA, RNA, and phospholipids. Here, a mechanism is proposed whereby cell cycle expression of polyamines at the start of S phase leads to disruption of transcription and splicing, giving priority to DNA and histone synthesis. Inappropriate initiation of this process in non-viable cells leads to apoptosis and may be an underlying cause of autoimmunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Cell Cycle*
  • Cell Division
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Ornithine Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Polyamines / metabolism*
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA Splicing
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Histones
  • Phospholipids
  • Polyamines
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Ornithine Decarboxylase