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Epigenetics Chromatin. 2015 Apr 22;8:15. doi: 10.1186/s13072-015-0006-8. eCollection 2015.

Multi-faceted quantitative proteomics analysis of histone H2B isoforms and their modifications.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544 USA.
2
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Epigenetics Program, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Room 9-124, 3400 Civic Center Blvd., Bldg. 421, Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA.
3
Department of Chemistry, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544 USA ; Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Epigenetics Program, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Room 9-124, 3400 Civic Center Blvd., Bldg. 421, Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Histone isoforms and their post-translational modifications (PTMs) play an important role in the control of many chromatin-related processes including transcription and DNA damage. Variants of histones H2A and H3 have been studied in depth and have been found to have distinct functions. Although 13 somatic histone H2B isoforms have been identified by various biochemical and mass spectrometric (MS) approaches, the distinct roles of these isoforms within human cells are as yet unknown. Here, we have developed quantitative MS techniques to characterize isoform-specific H2B expression across the cell cycle, in differentiated myogenic cells, and in different cancer cell lines to illuminate potential functional roles.

RESULTS:

Using the MS strategies that we developed, we identified differences in H2B isoform levels between different cancer cell types, suggesting cancer or tissue-specific H2B isoform regulation. In particular, we found large variations in the levels of isoforms H2B1B and H2B1M across the panel of cell lines. We also found that, while individual H2B isoforms do not differ in their acetylation levels, trends in the acetylation on all H2B isoforms correlated with acetylation on other histone family members in the cancer cell line panel. We also used the MS strategies to study H2B protein expression across the cell cycle and determined that H2B isoforms that are alternatively spliced to carry a polyadenylation signal rather than the standard histone downstream element are expressed independently of the cell cycle. However, the level of protein produced from the polyadenylated transcripts does not contribute significantly to the total pool of H2B isoforms translated across the cell cycle or in non-cycling myogenic cells.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results show that H2B isoforms are expressed at varying levels in different cells, suggesting isoform-specific, and possibly cell-type-specific, H2B gene regulation. The bottom-up mass spectrometry technique we developed for H2B quantification is compatible with the current standard histone H3 and H4 bottom-up 'one-pot' analysis platform so that H2B isoforms and their modifications can be studied in future experiments at the same time as histone H3 and H4 modifications. Therefore, we have expanded the histone landscape that can be interrogated in future experiments.

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