Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), the key enzyme of polyamine biosynthesis, becomes upregulated during cell proliferation and transformation. Here we show that intact ODC activity is needed for the acquisition of a transformed phenotype in rat 2R cells infected with a temperature-sensitive mutant of Rous sarcoma virus. Addition of the ODC inhibitor alpha-difluoromethyl ornithine (DFMO) to the cells (in polyamine-free medium) before shift to permissive temperature prevented the depolymerization of filamentous actin and morphological transformation. Polyamine supplementation restored the transforming potential of pp60v-src. DFMO did not interfere with the expression of pp60v-src or its in vitro tyrosine kinase activity. The tyrosine phosphorylation of most cellular proteins, including ras GAP, did not either display clear temperature- or DFMO-sensitive changes. A marked increase was, however, observed in the tyrosine phosphorylation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and proteins of 33 and 36 kD upon the temperature shift, and these hyperphosphorylations were partially inhibited by DFMO. A DFMO-sensitive increase was also found in the total phosphorylation of calpactins I and II. The well-documented association of GAP with the phosphotyrosine-containing proteins p190 and p62 did not correlate with transformation, but a novel 42-kD tyrosine phosphorylated protein was complexed with GAP in a polyamine- and transformation-dependent manner. Further, tyrosine phosphorylated proteins of 130, 80/85, and 36 kD were found to coimmunoprecipitate with pp60v-src in a transformation-related manner. Altogether, this model offers a tool for sorting out the protein phosphorylations and associations critical for the transformed phenotype triggered by pp60v-src, and implicates a pivotal role for polyamines in cell transformation.

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