Increased putrescine levels due to ODC1 overexpression prevents mitochondrial dysfunction-related apoptosis induced by methylmercury

Masayuki Sato, Takashi Toyama, Min Seok Kim, Jin Yong Lee, Takayuki Hoshi, Nobuhiko Miura, Akira Naganuma, Gi Wook Hwang

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: We had previously reported that addition of putrescine to the culture medium was reported to reduce methylmercury toxicity in C17.2 neural stem cells. Here, we have examined the inhibition of methylmercury-induced cytotoxicity by putrescine using ODC1-overexpressing C17.2 cells. Materials and methods: We established stable ODC1-overexpressing C17.2 cells and evaluated methylmercury-induced apoptosis by examining the TUNEL assay and cleaved caspase-3 levels. Mitochondria-mediated apoptosis was also evaluated by reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential and recruitment of Bax and Bak to the mitochondria. Key findings: ODC is encoded by ODC1 gene, and putrescine levels in ODC1-overexpressing cells were significantly higher than in control cells. Overexpression of ODC1 and addition of putrescine to the culture medium suppressed DNA fragmentation and caspase-3 activation, which are observed when apoptosis is induced by methylmercury. Moreover, mitochondrial dysfunction and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, caused by methylmercury, were also inhibited by the overexpression of ODC1 and putrescine; pretreatment with ODC inhibitor, however, promoted both ROS generation and apoptosis by methylmercury. Finally, we found that Bax and Bak, the apoptosis-promoting factors, to be increased in mitochondria, following methylmercury treatment, and the same was inhibited by overexpression of ODC1. These results suggest that overexpression of ODC1 may prevent mitochondria-mediated apoptosis by methylmercury via increase of putrescine levels. Significance: Our findings provide important clues to clarify mechanisms involved in the defense against methylmercury toxicity and suggest novel biological functions of putrescine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118031
JournalLife Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 1


  • Apoptosis
  • Methylmercury
  • Mitochondria
  • ODC1
  • Putrescine


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