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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Dec;1839(12):1395-403. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2014.02.008. Epub 2014 Feb 20.

An unexpected journey: lysine methylation across the proteome.

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Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Electronic address:


The dynamic modification of histone proteins by lysine methylation has emerged over the last decade as a key regulator of chromatin functions. In contrast, our understanding of the biological roles for lysine methylation of non-histone proteins has progressed more slowly. Though recently it has attracted less attention, ε-methyl-lysine in non-histone proteins was first observed over 50 years ago. In that time, it has become clear that, like the case for histones, non-histone methylation represents a key and common signaling process within the cell. Recent work suggests that non-histone methylation occurs on hundreds of proteins found in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm, and with important biomedical implications. Technological advances that allow us to identify lysine methylation on a proteomic scale are opening new avenues in the non-histone methylation field, which is poised for dramatic growth. Here, we review historical and recent findings in non-histone lysine methylation signaling, highlight new methods that are expanding opportunities in the field, and discuss outstanding questions and future challenges about the role of this fundamental post-translational modification (PTM).


Lysine methylation; Methylation signaling; Non-histone methylation; Post-translational modification; Proteome-wide

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