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J Mol Biol. 2010 Feb 5;395(5):983-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2009.11.062. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Structural and biophysical studies of human PARP-1 in complex with damaged DNA.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Colorado State University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


The enzyme poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) is a global monitor of chromatin structure and DNA damage repair. PARP-1 binds to nucleosomes and poly(ADP-ribosylates) histones and several chromatin-associated factors to expose specific DNA sequences to the cellular machinery involved in gene transcription and/or DNA damage repair. While these processes are critical to genomic stability, the molecular mechanisms of how DNA damage induces PARP-1 activation are poorly understood. We have used biochemical and thermodynamic measurements in conjunction with small-angle X-ray scattering to determine the stoichiometry, affinity, and overall structure of a human PARP-1 construct containing the entire DNA binding region, the zinc ribbon domain, and automodification domains (residues 1-486). The interaction of this PARP-1 protein construct with three different DNA damage models (DNA constructs containing a nick, a blunt end, or a 3' extension) was evaluated. Our data indicate that PARP-1 binds each DNA damage model as a monomer and with similar affinity, in all cases resulting in robust activation of the catalytic domain. Using small-angle X-ray scattering, we determined that the N-terminal half of PARP-1 behaves as an extended and flexible arrangement of individually folded domains in the absence of DNA. Upon binding DNA, PARP-1 undergoes a conformational change in the area surrounding the zinc ribbon domain. These data support a model in which PARP-1, upon binding DNA, undergoes a conformational change to become an active nuclear enzyme.

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