Comprehensive Mapping of Post-Translational Modifications on Synaptic, Nuclear, and Histone Proteins in the Adult Mouse Brain

J Proteome Res. 2009 Nov;8(11):4966-82. doi: 10.1021/pr9003739.


Post-translational modifications (PTMs) of proteins in the adult brain are known to mark activity-dependent processes for complex brain functions such as learning and memory. Multiple PTMs occur in nerve cells, and are able to modulate proteins in different subcellular compartments. In synaptic terminals, protein phosphorylation is the primary PTM that contributes to the control of the activity and localization of synaptic proteins. In the nucleus, it can modulate histones and proteins involved with the transcriptional machinery and, in combination with other PTMs such as acetylation, methylation and ubiquitination, acts to regulate chromatin remodelling and gene expression. The combination of histone PTMs is highly complex and is known to be unique to each gene. The ensemble of PTMs in the adult brain, however, remains unknown. Here, we describe a novel proteomic approach that allows the isolation and identification of PTMs on synaptic and nuclear proteins, in particular on histones. Using subcellular fractionation, we identified 2082 unique phosphopeptides from 1062 phosphoproteins, and 196 unique PTM sites on histones H1, H2A, H2B, H3 and H4. A comparison of phosphorylation sites in synaptic and nuclear compartments, and on histones, suggests that different kinases and kinase motifs are involved. Overall, our data demonstrates the complexity of PTMs in the brain and the prevalence of histone PTMs, and reveals potentially important regulatory sites on proteins involved in synaptic plasticity and brain functions.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Histones / chemistry*
  • Histones / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Subcellular Fractions / chemistry
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Synaptic Membranes / chemistry*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Histones
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Kinases