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Mutat Res. 1997 Jun;386(3):345-51.

Inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase by arsenite.

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  • 1Environment Group, Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA 94303, USA.


Inorganic arsenic is considered a human carcinogen based principally on epidemiological evidence. Unlike most initiating chemicals, arsenic is inactive or extremely weak in its ability to directly induce gene mutations. Arsenite has been shown, however, to enhance mutagenicity when present with other agents such as UV radiation. Synergistic potentiation of chromosomal damage has been shown with co-treatment with DNA-crosslinking agents. Arsenite at low concentrations is known to be highly selective in reacting with closely spaced (vicinal) dithiol groups in proteins. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) is known to contain such vicinal dithiol groups. Stimulation of PARP is an immediate response of eukaryotic cells to DNA strand breaks and has been implicated in DNA repair. The effect of treatment with sodium arsenite on PARP activity was assessed as follows: Molt-3 cells (a human T-cell lymphoma-derived cell line) in culture were treated for 24 h with concentrations of sodium arsenite ranging from 2.5 up to 25 microM. Speciation of inorganic arsenic and cell viability were determined. Cell cycle kinetics were measured by flow cytometry. Poly(ADP-ribose) synthesis was assayed using a palindromic decameric deoxynucleotide to stimulate enzyme activity. Results show that arsenite decreases PARP activity in a dose-dependent manner with an approximately 50% decrease in enzyme activity at 10 microM arsenite and 80% viability. The percent of cells in S-phase increases with increasing concentration of arsenite. These results provide further indication that arsenite may potentiate genetic damage through reaction with dithiols in DNA repair proteins such as PARP, perhaps resulting in interference with normal repair function.

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