Quantitative Methods to Study Protein Arginine Methyltransferase 1-9 Activity in Cells

J Vis Exp. 2021 Aug 7;(174). doi: 10.3791/62418.

Abstract

Protein methyltransferases (PRMTs) catalyze the transfer of a methyl group to arginine residues of substrate proteins. The PRMT family consists of nine members that can monomethylate or symmetrically/asymmetrically dimethylate arginine residues. Several antibodies recognizing different types of arginine methylation of various proteins are available; thus, providing tools for the development of PRMT activity biomarker assays. PRMT antibody-based assays are challenging due to overlapping substrates and motif-based antibody specificities. These issues and the experimental setup to investigate the arginine methylation contributed by individual PRMTs are discussed. Through the careful selection of the representative substrates that are biomarkers for eight out of nine PRMTs, a panel of PRMT activity assays were designed. Here, the protocols for cellular assays quantitatively measuring the enzymatic activity of individual members of the PRMT family in cells are reported. The advantage of the described methods is their straightforward performance in any lab with cell culture and fluorescent western blot capabilities. The substrate specificity and chosen antibody reliability were fully validated with knockdown and overexpression approaches. In addition to detailed guidelines of the assay biomarkers and antibodies, information on the use of an inhibitor tool compound collection for PRMTs is also provided.

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