Encyclopedia of Parasitology

Living Edition
| Editors: Heinz Mehlhorn


  • Heinz Mehlhorn
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27769-6_2480-2

Polyamines are ubiquitous polycations that are essential for cellular processes such as growth, replication, and differentiation. Organisms either synthesize polyamines or acquire them from the environment. The major polyamines are putrescine, spermidine, and spermine. Whereas putrescine and spermidine are the predominant polyamines in protozoan parasites, helminths primarily contain spermidine and spermine. The main substrates for polyamine biosynthesis are ornithine and methionine (Amino Acids, Fig. 1). In some amitochondriate protozoa, including Giardiaand trichomonads, ornithine derives from arginine via the arginine dihydrolase pathway (Amino Acids, Fig. 3). The enzymes of the polyamine biosynthetic pathway exhibit features that differ significantly between parasites and their mammalian hosts and are therefore of interest as targets for antiparasitic drug design. The first committed step in the biosynthetic pathway of polyamines is catalyzed by ornithine decarboxylase (ODC). As...


Plasmodium Falciparum Leishmania Species Trypanosoma Brucei Polyamine Biosynthesis Single Open Reading Frame 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zoomorphologie, Zellbiologie und ParasitologieHeinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany