This review focuses on the biological role of enzymes involved in posttranslational modification of proteins by their poly-ADP-ribosylation, a NAD-consuming process with an emerging key role in providing fundamental cell functions. To this end, detailed analysis of structural organization in relation to basic functions of the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1), the founding member of the PARP family, and other poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase isoforms is presented here. These include the current views on the role of PARP family enzymes and processes of poly-ADP-ribosylation of proteins in chromatin structure remodeling, DNA damage repair, regulation of gene expression, and integration of cellular signaling pathways. Considerable attention is paid to the involvement of PARP in cellular functions, particularly in cell division, intracellular transport of macromolcules, proteasomal protein degradation, immune response and caspase-independent necrotic pathways defined as necroptosis (programmed necrosis). In the light of the remarkable successes that have been reported for treating inflammatory disorders and cancer with different classes of PARPs inhibitors, we discuss the prospects of targeting PARPs with therapeutic purposes.
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