Mono-ADP-ribosylation (MARylation) of mammalian proteins was first described as a post-translational modification catalyzed by bacterial toxins. It is now known that endogenous MARylation occurs in mammalian cells and is catalyzed by 11 members of the poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) family of proteins (17 in humans). The physiological roles of these PARPs remain largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that PARP6, a neuronally enriched PARP that catalyzes MARylation, regulates hippocampal dendrite morphogenesis, a process that is critical for proper neural circuit formation during development. Knockdown of PARP6 significantly decreased dendritic complexity in embryonic rat hippocampal neurons in culture and in vivo. Expression of wild-type PARP6 increased dendritic complexity; conversely, expression of a catalytically inactive PARP6 mutant, or a cysteine-rich domain deletion mutant that has significantly reduced catalytic activity, decreased dendritic complexity. The identification of PARP6 as a regulator of dendrite morphogenesis supports a role for MARylation in neurons during development.
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