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Malignant transformation may occur in the background of post-translational modification, such as ADP-ribosylation, phosphorylation and acetylation. Recent genomic analysis of ADP-ribosylation led to the discovery of more than twenty ADP-ribosyltransferases (ARTs), which catalyze either mono- or poly-ADP-ribosylation. ARTs catalyze the attachment of ADP-ribose to acceptor molecules. The ADP-ribose-acceptor bond can then be cleaved by a family of hydrolases in a substrate-specific manner, which is dependent on the acceptor and its functional group, e.g., arginine (guanidino), serine (hydroxyl), aspartate (carboxyl). These hydrolases vary in structure and function, and include poly-ADP-ribose glycohydrolase (PARG), MacroD1, MacroD2, terminal ADP-ribose protein glycohydrolase 1 (TARG1) and ADP-ribosyl-acceptor hydrolases (ARHs). In murine models, PARG deficiency increased susceptibility to alkylating agents-induced carcinogenesis. Similarly, by cleaving mono-ADP-ribosylated arginine on target proteins, ARH1 appears to inhibit tumor formation, suggesting that ARH1 is a tumor-suppressor gene. Although ARH3 is similar to ARH1 in amino acid sequence and crystal structure, ARH3 does not cleave ADP-ribose-arginine, rather it degrades in an exocidic manner, the PAR polymer and cleaves O-acetyl-ADP-ribose (OAADPr) and the ADP-ribose-serine linkage in acceptor proteins. Under conditions of oxidative stress, ARH3-deficient cells showed increased cytosolic PAR accumulation and PARP-1 mediated cell death. These findings expand our understanding of ADP-ribosylation and provide new therapeutic targets for cancer treatment. In the present review, research on ARH1-regulated tumorigenesis and cell death pathways that are enhanced by ARH3 deficiency are discussed.