Methylation of histone H4 at aspartate 24 by protein L-isoaspartate O-methyltransferase (PCMT1) links histone modifications with protein homeostasis

Sci Rep. 2014 Oct 20;4:6674. doi: 10.1038/srep06674.


Histone modifications play crucial roles in modulating chromatin function and transcriptional activity. Due to their long half-life, histones can, in addition to post-translational modifications, also accumulate spontaneous chemical alterations, which can affect their functionality and require either protein repair or degradation. One of the major sources of such protein damage or ageing is the conversion of aspartate into isoaspartate residues that can then be methylated. Here, we characterize a novel histone modification, the methylation of histone H4 at aspartate 24 (H4D24me). We generated H4D24me specific antibodies and showed that H4D24me is ubiquitously present in different mouse and human cells. Our in vitro and in vivo data identified PCMT1 (Protein L-isoaspartate O-methyltransferase), an enzyme involved in protein repair, as a novel H4D24 specific histone methyltransferase. Furthermore, we demonstrated that VprBP (HIV-1 viral protein R (Vpr)-binding protein), a chromo domain-containing protein, specifically recognizes H4D24me potentially implicating H4D24me in H4 degradation. Thus, this work links for the first time a histone modification with histone protein aging and histone homeostasis, suggesting novel functions for histone modifications beyond transcriptional regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Aspartic Acid / genetics
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism*
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / metabolism
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • Mice
  • Protein D-Aspartate-L-Isoaspartate Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Protein D-Aspartate-L-Isoaspartate Methyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / genetics


  • Antibodies
  • Histones
  • Aspartic Acid
  • PCMT1 protein, human
  • Protein D-Aspartate-L-Isoaspartate Methyltransferase