Inhibition of Polyamine Metabolism: Biological Significance and Basis for New Therapies

edited by Peter P. McCann, Anthony E. Pegg, and Albert Sjoerdsma, xvi + 371 pages. Academic Press, 1250 Sixth Ave., San Diego, California 92101. 1987

Steven R. Meshnick Department of Microbiology, City College of New York, 138th Street & Convent Avenue New York, New York 10031

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Over the past two decades, an impressive body of literature has accumulated on the antineoplastic and antiparasitic activity of inhibitors of polyamine biosynthesis. Perhaps the best known to parasitologists is difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) which is effective clinically against African sleeping sickness. This is a timely, comprehensive, and well-written collection of review articles on polyamines and the pharmacological relevance of inhibitors of polyamine biosynthesis.

The first three chapters of the book focus on inhibitors of the best studied enzymes of polyamine metabolism including ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase, and polyamine oxidase. Chapter 4 reviews evidence for and against various proposed biological functions of polyamines, including their effects on nucleic acid structure, macromolecular synthesis, and membranes. For the molecular biologically inclined, Chapter 5 summarizes recent advances in the molecular cloning of ODC and S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase, and the role of gene amplification in resistance to ODC inhibitors.