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Cancer Res. 2001 May 15;61(10):4175-83.

Novel inhibitors of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase/PARP1 and PARP2 identified using a cell-based screen in yeast.

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  • 1Iconix Pharmaceuticals, 320 Logue Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.


Multicellular organisms must have means of preserving their genomic integrity or face catastrophic consequences such as uncontrolled cell proliferation or massive cell death. One response is a modification of nuclear proteins by the addition and removal of polymers of ADP-ribose that modulate the properties of DNA-binding proteins involved in DNA repair and metabolism. These ADP-ribose units are added by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and removed by poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase. Although budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae does not possess proteins with significant sequence similarity to the human PARP family of proteins, we identified novel small molecule inhibitors against two family members, PARP1 and PARP2, using a cell-based assay in yeast. The assay was based on the reversal of growth inhibition caused by the heterologous expression of either PARP1 or PARP2. Validation of the assay was achieved by showing that the growth inhibition was relieved by a mutation in a single residue in the catalytic site of PARP1 or PARP2 or exposure of yeast to a known PARP1 inhibitor, 6(5H)-phenanthridinone. In separate experiments, when a putative protein regulator of PARP activity, human poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase, was coexpressed with PARP1 or PARP2, yeast growth was restored. Finally, the inhibitors identified by screening the yeast assay are active in a mammalian PARP biochemical assay and inhibit PARP1 and PARP2 activity in yeast cell extracts. Thus, our data reflect the strength of using yeast to identify small molecule inhibitors of therapeutically relevant gene families, including those that are not found in yeast, such as PARP. The resultant inhibitors have two critical uses (a) as leads for drug development and (b) as tools to dissect cellular function.

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