Transcription is a multistep, tightly regulated process. During transcription initiation, promoter recognition and pre-initiation complex (PIC) formation take place, in which dynamic recruitment or exchange of transcription activators occur. The precise coordination of the recruitment and removal of transcription factors, as well as chromatin structural changes, are mediated by post-translational modifications (PTMs). Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs) are key players in this process, since they can modulate DNA-binding activities of specific transcription factors through poly-ADP-ribosylation (PARylation). PARylation can regulate the transcription at three different levels: (1) by directly affecting the recruitment of specific transcription factors, (2) by triggering chromatin structural changes during initiation and as a response to cellular stresses, or (3) by post-transcriptionally modulating the stability and degradation of specific mRNAs. In this review, we principally focus on these steps and summarise the recent findings, demonstrating the mechanisms through which PARylation plays a potential regulatory role during transcription and DNA repair.
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