Polyamines are abundant polycationic compounds involved in many plant physiological processes such as cell division, dormancy breaking, plant morphogenesis and response to environmental stresses. In this study, we investigated the possible role of these polycations in modulating the association of 14-3-3 proteins with the H(+)-ATPase. In vivo experiments demonstrate that, among the different polyamines, spermine brings about 2-fold stimulation of the H(+)-ATPase activity and this effect is due to an increase in 14-3-3 levels associated with the enzyme. In vivo administration of polyamine synthesis inhibitors causes a small but statistically significant decrease of the H(+)-ATPase phosphohydrolytic activity, demonstrating a physiological role for the polyamines in regulating the enzyme activity. Spermine stimulates the activity of the H(+)-ATPase AHA1 expressed in yeast, in the presence of exogenous 14-3-3 proteins, with a calculated S(50) of 70 microM. Moreover, spermine enhances the in vitro interaction of 14-3-3 proteins with the H(+)-ATPase and notably induces 14-3-3 association with the unphosphorylated C-terminal domain of the proton pump. Comparison of spermine with Mg(2+), necessary for binding of 14-3-3 proteins to different target proteins, shows that the polyamine effect is stronger than and additive to that of the divalent cation.