Spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase 1 is a gene-specific transcriptional regulator that drives brain tumor aggressiveness

Vijay S. Thakur, Brittany Aguila, Adina Brett-Morris, Chad J. Creighton, Scott M. Welford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase 1 (SAT1), the rate-limiting enzyme in polyamine catabolism, has broad regulatory roles due to near ubiquitous polyamine binding. We describe a novel function of SAT1 as a gene-specific transcriptional regulator through local polyamine acetylation. SAT1 expression is elevated in aggressive brain tumors and promotes resistance to radiotherapy. Expression profiling in glioma cells identified SAT1 target genes that distinguish high- and low-grade tumors, in support of the prognostic utility of SAT1 expression. We further discovered mechanisms of SAT1-driven tumor aggressiveness through promotion of expression of both DNA damage response pathways as well as cell cycle regulatory genes. Mechanistically, SAT1 associates specifically with the promoter of the MELK gene, which functionally controls other SAT1 targets, and leads biologically to maintenance of neurosphere stemness in conjunction with FOXM1 and EZH2. CRISPR knockin mutants demonstrate the essentiality of the polyamine acetyltransferase activity of SAT1 for its function as a transcriptional regulator. Together, the data demonstrate that gene-specific polyamine removal is a major transcriptional regulatory mechanism active in high-grade gliomas that drives poor outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6794-6800
Number of pages7
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 10 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase 1 is a gene-specific transcriptional regulator that drives brain tumor aggressiveness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this