Understanding the Polyamine and mTOR Pathway Interaction in Breast Cancer Cell Growth

Oluwaseun Akinyele, Heather M. Wallace* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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The polyamines putrescine, spermidine and spermine are nutrient-like polycationic molecules involved in metabolic processes and signaling pathways linked to cell growth and cancer. One important pathway is the PI3K/Akt pathway where studies have shown that polyamines mediate downstream growth effects. Downstream of PI3K/Akt is the mTOR signaling pathway, a nutrient-sensing pathway that regulate translation initiation through 4EBP1 and p70S6K phosphorylation and, along with the PI3K/Akt, is frequently dysregulated in breast cancer. In this study, we investigated the effect of intracellular polyamine modulation on mTORC1 downstream protein and general translation state in two breast cancer cell lines, MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231. The effect of mTORC1 pathway inhibition on the growth and intracellular polyamines was also measured. Results showed that polyamine modulation alters 4EBP1 and p70S6K phosphorylation and translation initiation in the breast cancer cells. mTOR siRNA gene knockdown also inhibited cell growth and decreased putrescine and spermidine content. Co-treatment of inhibitors of polyamine biosynthesis and mTORC1 pathway induced greater cytotoxicity and translation inhibition in the breast cancer cells. Taken together, these data suggest that polyamines promote cell growth in part through interaction with mTOR pathway. Similarly intracellular polyamine content appears to be linked to mTOR pathway regulation. Finally, dual inhibition of polyamine and mTOR pathways may provide therapeutic benefits in some breast cancers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number51
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Sciences
Issue number3
Early online date10 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding: O.A. was funded by University of Aberdeen PhD Elphinstone Scholarship.
Acknowledgments: We would like to thank P.M. Woster from Medical University of South Carolina
for providing the DFMO used in this study and Gary Cameron from University of Aberdeen for help with LC-MS analyses.


  • growth
  • polyamines
  • mTOR pathway
  • phosphorylation
  • 4E-BP1
  • p70SK1 and translation initiation


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