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Nucleic Acids Res. 2004 Dec 14;32(22):6511-8. Print 2004.

Mass spectrometry analysis of Arabidopsis histone H3 reveals distinct combinations of post-translational modifications.

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  • 1Life Science Core Curriculum, Department and Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Chromatin is regulated at many different levels, from higher-order packing to individual nucleosome placement. Recent studies have shown that individual histone modifications, and combinations thereof, play a key role in modulating chromatin structure and gene activity. Reported here is an analysis of Arabidopsis histone H3 modifications by nanoflow-HPLC coupled to electrospray ionization on a hybrid linear ion trap-Fourier transform mass spectrometer (LTQ/FTMS). We find that the sites of acetylation and methylation, in general, correlate well with other plants and animals. Two well-studied modifications, dimethylation of Lys-9 (correlated with silencing) and acetylation of Lys-14 (correlated with active chromatin) while abundant by themselves were rarely found on the same histone H3 tail. In contrast, dimethylation at Lys-27 and monomethylation at Lys-36 were commonly found together. Interestingly, acetylation at Lys-9 was found only in a low percentage of histones while acetylation of Lys-14 was very abundant. The two histone H3 variants, H3.1 and H3.2, also differ in the abundance of silencing and activating marks confirming other studies showing that the replication-independent histone H3 is enriched in active chromatin.

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