Synergistic induction of ornithine decarboxylase by asparagine and gut peptides in intestinal crypt cells

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology




6 43-6




Cell proliferation; Epidermal growth factor; Gastrin; Intestine; Polyamines; Transcription


The objective of this study was to determine whether the amino acid asparagine stimulated the activity of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) synergistically with epidermal growth factor (EGF) or gastrin in IEC-6 cells, a line of normal rat small intestinal crypt cells. Cells were grown in DMEM containing 5% dialyzed fetal bovine serum, and serum was deprived for 24 h before experiments. Exposure to EGF or gastrin alone increased ODC activity 4.5- to 6-fold. Asparagine alone increased the enzyme activity 10- to 13- fold in IEC-6 cells. Simultaneous addition of asparagine and EGF or gastrin, however, increased ODC activity more than 40-fold. In contrast, there was no synergistic induction of ODC activity when gastrin and EGF were added together. Increased ODC activity in cells treated with asparagine and EGF or gastrin was associated with an increase in ODC mRNA and protein levels. The rate of transcription of the ODC gene was significantly increased by exposure to EGF or gastrin. Asparagine alone had little or no effect on the rate of transcription of the ODC gene. When given together with EGF or gastrin, asparagine also had no additional effect on the transcription rate of the ODC gene. The half-life of mRNA for ODC in unstimulated IEC-6 cells was ~30 min and increased to more than 2 h in cells exposed to asparagine, although neither gastrin nor EGF prolonged the stability of ODC mRNA. The half-life of mRNA for ODC after combined addition of asparagine and EGF or gastrin was extended to ~2 h, similar to asparagine alone. Combined addition of asparagine and EGF or gastrin also significantly increased DNA synthesis compared with cells exposed to each of the three agents alone. In conclusion, 1) simultaneous addition of asparagine and EGF or gastrin increases ODC activity in a synergistic manner and 2) asparagine increases ODC mRNA levels through completely distinct mechanisms from EGF or gastrin. EGF or gastrin specifically stimulates transcription of the ODC gene, whereas asparagine affects a posttranscriptional process.

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