Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) is an abundant nuclear enzyme that is dependent on DNA breaks and nicks for its enzyme activity. These DNA nicks and breaks function as allosteric effectors of the enzyme activity. This reaction is important for efficient DNA base excision repair, although it is not a component of the elementary repair pathway itself. The physiological relevance of this reaction might be to ensure correct and efficient DNA repair. We have examined the enzyme activity of PARP in oocytes and eggs of Xenopuslaevis. Although both oocytes and eggs contain approximately the same amounts of enzyme protein, there is no detectable enzyme activity in the oocytes, whereas in the eggs the enzyme is active. Enzyme activity appears during oocyte maturation, approx. 4 h after induction by progesterone. This enzyme activation coincides with the appearance of active maturation-promoting factor. Enzyme activation is accompanied by a shift in the electrophoretic mobility of the polypeptide, from an apparent molecular mass of 116 kDa to 125 kDa. Treatment with either bacterial or potato phosphatase reverses the mobility shift and abolishes enzyme activity. Incubation of maturing X. laevis eggs with radioactive inorganic phosphate and subsequent immunoprecipitation demonstrate that the PARP protein is phosphorylated invivo. We show that maturation-promoting factor (Cyclin B/cdc2) cannot itself be responsible for the phosphorylation and activation of PARP in maturing X. laevis eggs. Together, these results demonstrate that the enzyme activity of PARP in X. laevis oocytes and eggs is regulated by post-translational, covalent phosphorylation.

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