Chemistry-Driven Epigenetic Investigation of Histone and DNA Modifications

Chem Rec. 2018 Dec;18(12):1727-1744. doi: 10.1002/tcr.201800040. Epub 2018 Aug 2.


In the regulation processes of gene expression, genomic DNA and nuclear proteins, including histone proteins, cooperate with each other, leading to the distinctive functions of eukaryotic cells such as pluripotency and differentiation. Chemical modification of histone proteins and DNA has been revealed as one of the major driving forces in the complicated epigenetic regulation system. However, understanding of the precise molecular mechanisms is still limited. To address this issue, researchers have proposed both biological and chemical strategies for the preparation and detection of modified proteins and nucleic acids. In this review, we focus on chemical methods around the field of epigenetics. Chemical protein synthesis has enabled the preparation of site-specifically modified histones and their successful application to various in vitro assays, which have emphasized the significance of posttranslational modifications of interest. We also review the modification-specific chemical reactions against synthetic and genomic DNA, which enabled discrimination of several modified bases at single-base resolution.

Keywords: Chemical protein synthesis; DNA methylation; Epigenetics; Gene sequencing; Histone posttranslational modifications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 5-Methylcytosine / chemistry
  • 5-Methylcytosine / metabolism
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Epigenomics*
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Solid-Phase Synthesis Techniques


  • Histones
  • 5-Methylcytosine
  • DNA