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Am J Cancer Res. 2011;1(3):328-346. Epub 2011 Jan 8.

PARP-1 and PARP-2: New players in tumour development.

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Department of Immunology, Cancer Research Program, IMIM-Hospital del Mar, Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) Barcelona, Spain.


Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) and PARP-2 belong to a family of enzymes that, using NAD(+) as a substrate, catalyze poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of proteins. PARP-1 and PARP-2 catalytic activity is stimulated by DNA-strand breaks targeting mainly proteins involved in chromatin structure and DNA metabolism, providing strong support for a dual role of both PARP-1 and PARP-2 in the DNA damage response as DNA damage sensors and signal transducers to downstream effectors. The DNA damage response has important consequences for genomic stability and tumour development. In order to manipulate DNA damage responses to selectively induce tumour cell death, a considerable effort is centred on defining the molecular mechanisms that allow cells to detect, respond to, and repair DNA damage. PARP inhibitors that compete with NAD+ at the highly conserved enzyme active site are arisen as new potential therapeutic strategies as chemo- and radiopotentiation and for the treatment of cancers with specific DNA repair defects as single-agent therapies. In the present review, we highlight emerging information about the redundant and specific functions of PARP-1 and PARP-2 in genome surveillance and DNA repair pathways. Understanding these roles might provide invaluable clues to design new cancer therapeutic approaches. In addition, we provide an overview of ongoing clinical trials with PARP inhibitors and the value of PARP-1 and PARP-2 expression as prognostic biomarkers in cancer.


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