Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) serves as an essential redox co-factor and mediator of multiple biological processes. Besides its well-established role in electron transfer reactions, NAD serves as a substrate for other biotransformations, which, at the molecular level, can be classified as protein post-translational modifications (protein deacylation, mono-, and polyADP-ribosylation) and formation of signaling molecules (e.g., cyclic ADP ribose). These biochemical reactions control many crucial biological processes, such as cellular signaling and recognition, DNA repair and epigenetic modifications, stress response, immune response, aging and senescence, and many others. However, the links between the biological effects and underlying molecular processes are often poorly understood. Moreover, NAD has recently been found to tag the 5′-ends of some cellular RNAs, but the function of these NAD-capped RNAs remains largely unrevealed. Synthetic NAD analogs are invaluable molecular tools to detect, monitor, structurally investigate, and modulate activity of NAD-related enzymes and biological processes in order to aid their deeper understanding. Here, we review the recent advances in the design and development of NAD analogs as probes for various cellular NAD-related enzymes, enzymatic inhibitors with anticancer or antimicrobial therapeutic potential, and other NAD-related chemical biology tools. We focus on research papers published within the last 10 years.
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