Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The underlying mechanisms of arsenic carcinogenicity are still not fully understood. Mechanisms currently discussed include the induction of oxidative DNA damage and the interference with DNA repair pathways. Still unclear is the role of biomethylation, which has long been considered to be one major detoxification process. Methylated arsenicals have recently been shown to interfere with DNA repair in cellular and subcellular systems, but up to now no DNA repair protein has been identified being particular sensitive towards methylated arsenicals in cultured cells. Here we report that the trivalent methylated metabolites MMA(III) and DMA(III) inhibit poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation in cultured human HeLa S3 cells at concentrations as low as 1nM, thereby showing for the first time an inactivation of an enzymatic reaction related to DNA repair by the trivalent methylated arsenicals at very low environmentally relevant concentrations. In contrast the pentavalent metabolites MMA(V) and DMA(V) showed no such effects up to high micromolar concentrations. All investigated arsenicals did not alter gene expression of PARP-1. However, all trivalent arsenicals were able to inhibit the activity of isolated PARP-1, indicating that the observed decrease in poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation in cultures human cells, predominantly mediated by PARP-1, is likely due to changes in the activity of PARP-1. Since poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation plays a major role in DNA repair, cell cycle control and thus in the maintenance of genomic stability, these findings could in part explain DNA repair inhibition and the genotoxic and carcinogenic effects of arsenic.

Original publication




Journal article


DNA Repair (Amst)

Publication Date





61 - 70


Arsenites, DNA, DNA Damage, DNA Repair, Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic, HeLa Cells, Humans, Methylation, Oxidation-Reduction, Poly (ADP-Ribose) Polymerase-1, Poly Adenosine Diphosphate Ribose, Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases, Teratogens