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Chromosoma. 2005 May;114(1):67-74. Epub 2005 Apr 19.

Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation during chromatin remodeling steps in rat spermiogenesis.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA.


In spermiogenesis, spermatid differentiation is marked by dramatic changes in chromatin density and composition. The extreme condensation of the spermatid nucleus is characterized by an exchange of histones to transition proteins and then to protamines as the major nuclear proteins. Alterations in DNA topology that occur in this process have been shown to require the controlled formation of DNA strand breaks. Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation is a posttranslational modification of proteins mediated by a family of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) proteins, and two family members, PARP-1 and PARP-2, are activated by DNA strand breaks that are directly detected by the DNA-binding domains of these enzymes. Here, we show for the first time that poly(ADP-ribose) formation, mediated by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARP-1 and presumably PARP-2), occurs in spermatids of steps 11-14, steps that immediately precede the most pronounced phase of chromatin condensation in spermiogenesis. High levels of ADP-ribose polymer were observed in spermatid steps 12-13 in which the highest rates of chromatin nucleoprotein exchanges take place. We also detected gamma-H2AX, indicating the presence of DNA double-strand breaks during the same steps. Thus, we hypothesize that transient ADP-ribose polymer formation may facilitate DNA strand break management during the chromatin remodeling steps of sperm cell maturation.

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