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J Biol Chem. 2003 May 16;278(20):18426-33. Epub 2003 Mar 7.

Intra-mitochondrial poly(ADP-ribosylation) contributes to NAD+ depletion and cell death induced by oxidative stress.

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  • 1Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Safar Center for Resuscitation Research, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


Poly(ADP-ribosylation), primarily via poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1), is a pluripotent cellular process important for maintenance of genomic integrity and RNA transcription in cells. However, during conditions of oxidative stress and energy depletion, poly(ADP-ribosylation) paradoxically contributes to mitochondrial failure and cell death. Although it has been presumed that poly(ADP-ribosylation) within the nucleus mediates this pathologic process, PARP-1 and other poly(ADP-ribosyltransferases) are also localized within mitochondria. To this end, the presence of PARP-1 and poly(ADP-ribosylation) were verified within mitochondrial fractions from primary cortical neurons and fibroblasts. Inhibition of poly(ADP-ribosylation) within the mitochondrial compartment preserved transmembrane potential (DeltaPsi(m)), NAD(+) content, and cellular respiration, prevented release of apoptosis-inducing factor, and reduced neuronal cell death triggered by oxidative stress. Treatment with liposomal NAD(+) also preserved DeltaPsi(m) and cellular respiration during oxidative stress. Furthermore, inhibition of poly(ADP-ribosylation) prevented intranuclear localization of apoptosis-inducing factor and protected neurons from excitotoxic injury; and PARP-1 null fibroblasts were protected from oxidative stress-induced cell death. Collectively these data suggest that poly(ADP-ribosylation) compartmentalized to the mitochondria can be converted from a homeostatic process to a mechanism of cell death when oxidative stress is accompanied by energy depletion. These data implicate intra-mitochondrial poly(ADP-ribosylation) as an important therapeutic target for central nervous system and other diseases associated with oxidative stress and energy failure.

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