Lysine acetylation and cancer: A proteomics perspective

J Proteomics. 2017 Jan 6:150:297-309. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2016.10.003. Epub 2016 Oct 13.


Lysine acetylation is a reversible modification controlled by two groups of enzymes: lysine acetyltransferases (KATs) and lysine deacetylases (KDACs). Acetylated lysine residues are recognized by bromodomains, a family of evolutionarily conserved domains. The use of high-resolution mass spectrometry-based proteomics, in combination with the enrichment of acetylated peptides through immunoprecipitation with anti-acetyl-lysine antibodies, has expanded the number of acetylated proteins from histones and a few nuclear proteins to more than 2000 human proteins. Because acetylation targets almost all cellular processes, this modification has been associated with cancer. Several KATs, KDACs and bromodomain-containing proteins have been linked to cancer development. Many small molecules targeting some of these proteins have been or are being tested as potential cancer therapies. The stoichiometry of lysine acetylation has not been explored in cancer, representing a promising field in which to increase our knowledge of how this modification is affected in cancer. In this review, we will focus on the strategies that can be used to go deeper in the characterization of the protein lysine acetylation emphasizing in cancer research.

Keywords: Bromodomains; Cancer; Lysine acetylation; Lysine acetyltransferases; Lysine deacetylases; Proteomics; Stoichiometry.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Humans
  • Lysine / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Lysine