Quantitative mass spectrometry of histones H3.2 and H3.3 in Suz12-deficient mouse embryonic stem cells reveals distinct, dynamic post-translational modifications at Lys-27 and Lys-36

Hye Ryung Jung, Diego Pasini, Kristian Helin, Ole N Jensen
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics: MCP 2010, 9 (5): 838-50
SUZ12 is a core component of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) and is required for the differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs). PRC2 is associated with transcriptional repression via methylation of H3 Lys-27. We applied quantitative mass spectrometry to investigate the effects of Suz12 deficiency on H3.2 and H3.3 from mouse ESCs. Using high mass accuracy MS combined with CID or electron transfer dissociation (ETD) tandem mass spectrometry, we identified a total of 81 unique modified peptides from H3.2 and H3.3 and assigned 46 modifications at 22 different positions, including distinct coexisting modifications. In certain cases, high mass accuracy LTQ-Orbitrap MS/MS allowed precise localization of near isobaric coexisting PTMs such as trimethylation and acetylation within individual peptides. ETD MS/MS facilitated sequencing and annotation of phosphorylated histone peptides. The combined use of ETD and CID MS/MS increased the total number of identified modified peptides. Comparative quantitative analysis of histones from wild type and Suz12-deficient ESCs using stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture and LC-MS/MS revealed a dramatic reduction of H3K27me2 and H3K27me3 and an increase of H3K27ac, thereby uncovering an antagonistic methyl/acetyl switch at H3K27. The reduction in H3K27 methylation and increase in H3K27 acetylation was accompanied by H3K36 acetylation and methylation. Estimation of the global isoform percentage of unmodified and modified histone peptides (amino acids 27-40) showed the relative distribution of distinct coexisting histone marks. Our study revealed limitations of antibody-based Western blotting methods for detection of coexisting protein modifications and demonstrated the utility of quantitative tandem mass spectrometry for detailed analysis of the dynamics of coexisting post-translational modifications in proteins.

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