Amino Acids

, Volume 4, Issue 1–2, pp 53–61 | Cite as

Zinc can influence ornithine decarboxylase activity in rat thymus cells

  • C. Stefanelli
  • F. Ferrari
  • C. Rossoni
  • F. Flamigni
  • C. M. Caldarera


The thymus of young rats contained a high basal activity of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC). Treatment with zinc sulphate caused a slight increase of thymic ODC activity within 6 hours and a more marked enhancement (three-fold) in the spleen 24 h after treatment. In spite of the high activity of thymic ODCin vivo, ODC was not detectable in primary cultures of rat thymocytes, but was early and largely induced after treatment with Concanavalin A (Con A). The presence of 0.1 mM zinc in the medium increased the response of ODC to Con A. This effect of zinc in mitogen activated thymocytes may be due to the stabilization of ODC, which was found to decay with a half life of 65 min after the block of protein synthesis with cycloheximide. On the contrary in absence of zinc the half life of the enzyme was 40 min, as in the rat thymus in vivo.

Zinc alone, at 0.1 mM concentration, did not affect ODC activity in resting thymocytes during the early times, but the metal was able to cause an increase of the enzyme activity after 4–6 days of culture. Other heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and copper provoked a late increase of ODC activity, but their action was evident only at dosages which were toxic for the cells.


Amino acids Ornithine decarboxylase Thymocytes Zinc Metal ions 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Stefanelli
    • 1
  • F. Ferrari
    • 1
  • C. Rossoni
    • 1
  • F. Flamigni
    • 1
  • C. M. Caldarera
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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