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Nucleic Acids Res. 2008 Feb;36(2):570-7. Epub 2007 Dec 1.

Nepsilon-formylation of lysine is a widespread post-translational modification of nuclear proteins occurring at residues involved in regulation of chromatin function.

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Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction, Max-Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz 18, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany.


Post-translational modification of histones and other chromosomal proteins regulates chromatin conformation and gene activity. Methylation and acetylation of lysyl residues are among the most frequently described modifications in these proteins. Whereas these modifications have been studied in detail, very little is known about a recently discovered chemical modification, the N(epsilon)-lysine formylation, in histones and other nuclear proteins. Here we mapped, for the first time, the sites of lysine formylation in histones and several other nuclear proteins. We found that core and linker histones are formylated at multiple lysyl residues located both in the tails and globular domains of histones. In core histones, formylation was found at lysyl residues known to be involved in organization of nucleosomal particles that are frequently acetylated and methylated. In linker histones and high mobility group proteins, multiple formylation sites were mapped to residues with important role in DNA binding. N(epsilon)-lysine formylation in chromosomal proteins is relatively abundant, suggesting that it may interfere with epigenetic mechanisms governing chromatin function, which could lead to deregulation of the cell and disease.

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