Polyamines are a class of essential nutrients involved in many basic cellular processes such as gene expression, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. Without polyamines, cell growth is delayed or halted. Cancerous cells require an abundance of polyamines through a combination of synthesis and transport from the extracellular environment. An FDA-approved drug, D,L-α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), blocks polyamine synthesis but is ineffective at inhibiting cell growth due to polyamine transport. Thus, there is a need to develop drugs that inhibit polyamine transport to use in combination with DFMO. Surprisingly, little is known about the polyamine transport system in humans and other eukaryotes. Understanding the transport system would allow us to identify compounds that inhibit polyamine transport, which could then be used in tandem with DFMO to treat cancer. Our laboratory has identified one gene in Drosophila, called CG32000, as a component of this transport system, and numerous other candidate genes remain to be tested. To better characterize this system, this project investigated the ability of the Drosophila transport system to take up a toxic polyamine analogue called norspermidine, with the initial goal of developing a new screening method to find polyamine transport genes. My experiments have demonstrated significant differences in norspermidine uptake and toxicity between C. elegans and Drosophila which may imply a secondary polyamine transport system in higher eukaryotes. In the long term, it is hoped that this thesis will facilitate the development of more effective cancer medications by providing new information about the polyamine transport system.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Von Kalm, Laurence


Teter, Kenneth


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date