Quantitative proteomics reveals that the specific methyltransferases Txr1p and Ezl2p differentially affect the mono-, di- and trimethylation states of histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27)

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2013 Jun;12(6):1678-88. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M112.021733. Epub 2012 Nov 13.


Nuclear DNA in eukaryotic cells is assembled into the hierarchical chromatin structure via a process that is dynamically affected by the combinatorial set of post-translational modifications (PTMs) of histones in a dynamic manner responsive to physiological and environmental changes. The precise quantification of these complex modifications is challenging. Here we present a robust MS-based quantitative proteomics method for studying histone PTMs using (15)N metabolically labeled histones as the internal reference. Using this approach, we identified Tetrahymena trithorax related 1 (Txr1p) as a histone methyltransferase in Tetrahymena thermophila and characterized the relationships of the Txr1p and Ezl2p methyltransferases to histone H3 modification. We identified 32 PTMs in more than 60 tryptic peptides from histone H3 of the ciliate model organism Tetrahymena thermophila, and we quantified them (average coefficient of variation: 13%). We examined perturbations to histone modification patterns in two knockout strains of SET-domain-containing histone methyltransferases (HMT). Knockout of TXR1 led to progressively decreased mono-, di-, and tri-methylation of H3K27 and apparent reduced monomethylation of H3K36 in vivo. In contrast, EZL2 knockout resulted in dramatic reductions in both di- and tri-methylation of H3K27 in vivo, whereas the levels of monomethylation of H3K27 increased significantly. This buildup of monomethyl H3K27 is consistent with its role as a substrate for Ezl2p. These results were validated via immunoblotting using modification site-specific antibodies. Taken together, our studies define Txr1p as an H3K27 monomethylation-specific HMT that facilitates the buildup of H3K27 di- and trimethylation by the canonical H3K27-specific HMT, Ezl2p. Our studies also delineate some of the interdependences between various H3 modifications, as compensatory increases in monomethylation at H3K4, H3K23, and H3K56 were also observed for both TXR1 and ELZ2 mutants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Methylation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Tetrahymena thermophila / genetics
  • Tetrahymena thermophila / metabolism*


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Isoenzymes
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase