Puffing with PARP

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Science  24 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5606, pp. 528-529
DOI: 10.1126/science.1081520

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The enzyme PARP is ubiquitous among eukaryotes (except for budding yeast) and is known to be important for repairing damaged DNA. In his Perspective, Pirrotta unveils a new job for this versatile polymerase. PARP turns out to be important for the formation of puffs in the giant chromosomes of Drosophila (Tulin and Spradling). These puffs (first observed decades ago under the microscope) are areas of intense transcriptional activity at the sites of target genes produced in response to, for example, a heat shock stimulus or the molting hormone ecdysone.