Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation is a post-translational modification of proteins. During this process, molecules of ADP-ribose are added successively on to acceptor proteins to form branched polymers. This modification is transient but very extensive in vivo, as polymer chains can reach more than 200 units on protein acceptors. The existence of the poly(ADP-ribose) polymer was first reported nearly 40 years ago. Since then, the importance of poly(ADP-ribose) synthesis has been established in many cellular processes. However, a clear and unified picture of the physiological role of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation still remains to be established. The total dependence of poly(ADP-ribose) synthesis on DNA strand breaks strongly suggests that this post-translational modification is involved in the metabolism of nucleic acids. This view is also supported by the identification of direct protein-protein interactions involving poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (113 kDa PARP), an enzyme catalysing the formation of poly(ADP-ribose), and key effectors of DNA repair, replication and transcription reactions. The presence of PARP in these multiprotein complexes, in addition to the actual poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of some components of these complexes, clearly supports an important role for poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation reactions in DNA transactions. Accordingly, inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) synthesis by any of several approaches and the analysis of PARP-deficient cells has revealed that the absence of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation strongly affects DNA metabolism, most notably DNA repair. The recent identification of new poly(ADP-ribosyl)ating enzymes with distinct (non-standard) structures in eukaryotes and archaea has revealed a novel level of complexity in the regulation of poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism.
- chromatin structure
- DNA repair
- genome integrity
- poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase
- poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase
- The Biochemical Society, London © 1999