Folate (vitamin B9) is utilized for synthesis of both S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and deoxythymidine monophosphate (dTMP), which are required for methylation reactions and DNA synthesis, respectively. Folate depletion leads to an imbalance in both AdoMet and nucleotide pools, causing epigenetic and genetic damage capable of initiating tumorigenesis. Polyamine biosynthesis also utilizes AdoMet, but polyamine pools are not reduced under a regimen of folate depletion. We hypothesized that high polyamine biosynthesis, due to the high demand on AdoMet pools, might be a factor in determining sensitivity to folate depletion. We found a significant correlation (P<0.001) between polyamine biosynthesis and the amount of folate required to sustain cell line proliferation. We manipulated polyamine biosynthesis by genetic and pharmacological intervention and mechanistically demonstrated that we could thereby alter AdoMet pools and increase or decrease demand on folate availability needed to sustain cellular proliferation. Furthermore, growing a panel of cell lines with 100 nM folate led to imbalanced nucleotide and AdoMet pools only in cells with endogenously high polyamine biosynthesis. These data demonstrate that polyamine biosynthesis is a critical factor in determining sensitivity to folate depletion and may be particularly important in the prostate, where biosynthesis of polyamines is characteristically high due to its secretory function.
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