Poly(ADP-ribose) (pADPr) is a unique polymer required for life in multicellular organisms. It functions as both a covalent modification of acceptor proteins and as a scaffold that binds specific sets of proteins. The polymer plays a role in essential cellular functions including cell division and cell cycle progression and regulation of transcription and translation. pADPr also functions in cell stress responses such as apoptosis, DNA damage repair, and innate immune responses. In preliminary results we identified a new function for pADPr and the enzymes that polymerize it, pADPr polymerases (PARPs) in regulation of stress granule (SG) assembly and the post-transcriptional regulation of mRNAs. These results connect the fields of cellular stress, PARPs and mRNA regulation in an unexpected manner. They suggest that pADPr functions as a structural scaffold for SG assembly, similar to its function at the spindle pole and at sites of DNA damage. We anticipate that our results will have a high impact on all three fields and wish to extend our work to include mechanistic studies. One of our long-term goals is to understand how pADPr functions as a scaffold. SG assembly and mRNA regulation is an ideal process to study the scaffold function of pADPr. In this proposal, we seek to determine the mechanism of pADPr function in the assembly of a SG and begin to understand how pADPr binding to proteins regulates function. We do so using a combination of biochemical assays and cell biology.
In specific Aim 1 we identify the sites of pADPr modification that are required for SG assembly and generate and determine the mechanism in which pADPr is synthesized for stress.
In Aim 2 we determine the manner in which pADPr regulates mRNA binding and recruitment to the SG, and in Aim 3 we examine the structure- function relationships that govern binding of pADPr to proteins. We believe the proposed experiments will help elucidate the scaffold function of pADPr elsewhere in the cell. SGs have important disease relevance. PARP inhibition, already shown to be effective for breast and ovarian cancer therapies, might be equally effective for treatment of other stress-related diseases such as solid tumors, ischemia, and neurodegenerative disease.

Public Health Relevance

Poly(ADP-ribose) (pADPr) is a unique polymer required for life in multicellular organisms. It is polymerized by a family of proteins called pADPr polymerases (PARPs). pADPr and PARPs function in essential cellular functions and cell stress responses. These stress response pathways are common targets for human disease therapy. We recently identified a new stress function for pADPr - stress granule assembly. Stress granules are large multi-protein complexes that assemble in the cytoplasm in response to external stresses such as heat shock, oxidative stress, ischemia and viral infection. They are thought to regulate the stability and translation potential of mRNAs. Recently, pADPr has been implicated in cancer, prompting pharmaceutical companies to develop inhibitors that target members of the PARP family. Several PARP-1 inhibitors have progressed to Phase 3 trials for treatment of breast and ovarian cancers in near record time. The long-term goal of our studies is to understand how pADPr functions in the stress granule.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Nuclear and Cytoplasmic Structure/Function and Dynamics Study Section (NCSD)
Program Officer
Ainsztein, Alexandra M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Bock, Florian J; Todorova, Tanya T; Chang, Paul (2015) RNA Regulation by Poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerases. Mol Cell 58:959-69
Bock, Florian J; Chang, Paul (2015) Stress response: PARP1 911. Nat Chem Biol 11:179-80
Bock, Florian J; Chang, Paul (2015) Macrophage activation: on par with LPS. Chem Biol 22:432-433
Todorova, Tanya; Bock, Florian J; Chang, Paul (2015) Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-13 and RNA regulation in immunity and cancer. Trends Mol Med 21:373-84
Todorova, Tanya; Bock, Florian J; Chang, Paul (2014) PARP13 regulates cellular mRNA post-transcriptionally and functions as a pro-apoptotic factor by destabilizing TRAILR4 transcript. Nat Commun 5:5362
Vyas, Sejal; Matic, Ivan; Uchima, Lilen et al. (2014) Family-wide analysis of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activity. Nat Commun 5:4426
Vyas, Sejal; Chang, Paul (2014) New PARP targets for cancer therapy. Nat Rev Cancer 14:502-9
Vyas, Sejal; Chesarone-Cataldo, Melissa; Todorova, Tanya et al. (2013) A systematic analysis of the PARP protein family identifies new functions critical for cell physiology. Nat Commun 4:2240
Vyas, Sejal; Chang, Paul (2013) Dual roles for PARP1 during heat shock: transcriptional activator and posttranscriptional inhibitor of gene expression. Mol Cell 49:1-3
Leung, Anthony; Todorova, Tanya; Ando, Yoshinari et al. (2012) Poly(ADP-ribose) regulates post-transcriptional gene regulation in the cytoplasm. RNA Biol 9:542-8

Showing the most recent 10 out of 13 publications