In vitro histone demethylase assays

Methods Mol Biol. 2009;523:249-61. doi: 10.1007/978-1-59745-190-1_17.


Histone methylation plays important roles in chromatin structure, transcription, and epigenetic state of the cell. Tremendous discoveries recently demonstrated that methylation mark is not static but is dynamically regulated by both histone methyltransferases and the histone demethylases. Two families of histone demethylases have been identified to remove methyl groups from lysine side chain through different reaction mechanisms in presence of distinct cofactors. Amine oxidase LSD1 family requires flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) whereas dioxygenase Jmjc domain-containing proteins family relies on Fe(II) and alpha-ketoglutarate. Identification of these enzymes opened a new era in understanding how chromatin dynamic is regulated and further understanding the regulation of these enzymes will provide significant insights into fundamental mechanisms of many biological processes and human diseases. This chapter describes different assay conditions and detection methods for different family of histone demethylases. We also summarize step-by-step protocols for purification and preparation of various histone substrates for histone demethylase assays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay / methods*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / metabolism*


  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating