Reduced levels of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation result in chromatin compaction and hypermethylation as shown by cell-by-cell computer-assisted quantitative analysis

FASEB J. 1999 Jan;13(1):89-93. doi: 10.1096/fasebj.13.1.89.


The unmethylated status of the CpG islands is important for gene expression of correlated housekeeping genes since it is well known that their methylation inhibits transcription process. An interesting question that has been discussed but not solved is how the CpG islands maintain their characteristic unmethylated status even though they are rich in CpG dinucleotides. Our previous in vitro and in vivo research has shown that poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation is involved in protecting CpG dinucleotides from full methylation in genomic DNA and that a block of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation is also involved in modifying the methylation pattern in the promoter region of Htf9 housekeeping gene. In this study we locked for cytological evidence that in the absence of an active poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation the DNA methylation pattern in L929 and NIH/3T3 mouse fibroblast cell lines is altered. For this purpose, differences in the methylation levels of interphase nuclei from control and treated cultures of two murine cell lines preincubated with 2 mM 3-aminobenzamide, an inhibitor of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation, were measured in individual cells after indirect immunolabeling with anti-5MeC antibodies. The quantitative analysis allowed us to demonstrate that blocking of the poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation results in a higher number, size, and density of antibody binding regions in treated cells when compared to the controls. Analogously, sequential Giemsa staining and indirect immunolabeling of the same slides showed the heterochromatic regions colocalized with the extended methyl-rich domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • 5-Methylcytosine
  • Animals
  • Benzamides / pharmacology
  • Cytosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Cytosine / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Heterochromatin / drug effects*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Mice
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors*


  • Benzamides
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Heterochromatin
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors
  • 5-Methylcytosine
  • Cytosine
  • 3-aminobenzamide