Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) has been suggested to play a regulatory role in vivo, in DNA replication and/or DNA repair based mainly on its capacity to bind to DNA strand breaks. This interaction is modulated through auto poly(ADP-ribosylation). However, the biological function of PARP may also involve interactions with proteins such as topoisomerase I or DNA polymerase alpha, which may or may not be themselves ADP-ribosylated. Using the yeast two-hybrid method search for other proteins interacting with PARP, we have isolated a full-length cDNA clone coding for a protein of 158 amino acid residues. This amino acid sequence is 66 and 56% identical to yeast ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes Hus5 and Ubc9 of Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, respectively. Moreover, we have demonstrated that the expressed protein complements a S. cerevisiae yeast strain deficient for Ubc9. The protein encoded by the isolated cDNA is thus a new human counterpart of the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme family and has been called hUbc9. The hubc9 gene locus has been assigned to the chromosomal location 16p13.2-p13.3. By means of two-hybrid analysis it was discovered that hUbc9 interacts with the automodification domain of PARP. This interaction was further confirmed using GST (glutathione-S-transferase) tagged fusion proteins: (i) in vivo, by transfecting cos7 cells with hUbc9 cloned in an eukaryotic expression vector, and (ii) in vitro, by mixing purified PARP with hUbc9 purified and expressed in bacteria. The possible significance and function of this interaction is discussed while taking into account the possible intracellular role of hUbc9.
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