We study compounds in the amine class. These include three polyamines—putrescine, spermidine, and spermine. Some amines are found in all living cells, and influence the growth and differentiation of organ systems. Our group studies how the body makes and breaks down these polyamines. We also study their physiologic functions and actions in living organisms. For this purpose, we developed bacteria and yeast with genetic mutations that prevent them from making these polyamines.
These genetically modified bacteria and yeast serve as very useful tools. We are using them to expand our knowledge in the studies of biochemistry, genetics, and enzymes. We are examining how organisms make these polyamines. We are also examining the physiological effects that occur when an organism lacks these polyamines.
Our group found that organisms require polyamines for many important functions. These include growth, reproduction, and protection. Polyamines are essential for accurate protein production. They also maintain cells’ “power plants” (mitochondria).