Distinctive core histone post-translational modification patterns in Arabidopsis thaliana

PLoS One. 2007 Nov 21;2(11):e1210. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001210.


Post-translational modifications of histones play crucial roles in the genetic and epigenetic regulation of gene expression from chromatin. Studies in mammals and yeast have found conserved modifications at some residues of histones as well as non-conserved modifications at some other sites. Although plants have been excellent systems to study epigenetic regulation, and histone modifications are known to play critical roles, the histone modification sites and patterns in plants are poorly defined. In the present study we have used mass spectrometry in combination with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separation and phospho-peptide enrichment to identify histone modification sites in the reference plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. We found not only modifications at many sites that are conserved in mammalian and yeast cells, but also modifications at many sites that are unique to plants. These unique modifications include H4 K20 acetylation (in contrast to H4 K20 methylation in non-plant systems), H2B K6, K11, K27 and K32 acetylation, S15 phosphorylation and K143 ubiquitination, and H2A K144 acetylation and S129, S141 and S145 phosphorylation, and H2A.X S138 phosphorylation. In addition, we found that lysine 79 of H3 which is highly conserved and modified by methylation and plays important roles in telomeric silencing in non-plant systems, is not modified in Arabidopsis. These results suggest distinctive histone modification patterns in plants and provide an invaluable foundation for future studies on histone modifications in plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / chemistry
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Methylation
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Histones