Small Mass but Strong Information: Diagnostic Ions Provide Crucial Clues to Correctly Identify Histone Lysine Modifications

Alaa Hseiky et al., Proteomes (2021) - PMID: 33922761

Product(s) used in this publication:  Specialty Peptides


(1) Background: The proteomic analysis of histones constitutes a delicate task due to the combination of two factors: slight variations in the amino acid sequences of variants and the multiplicity of post-translational modifications (PTMs), particularly those occurring on lysine residues. (2) Methods: To dissect the relationship between both aspects, we carefully evaluated PTM identification on lysine 27 from histone H3 (H3K27) and the artefactual chemical modifications that may lead to erroneous PTM determination. H3K27 is a particularly interesting example because it can bear a range of PTMs and it sits nearby residues 29 and 31 that vary between H3 sequence variants. We discuss how the retention times, neutral losses and immonium/diagnostic ions observed in the MS/MS spectra of peptides bearing modified lysines detectable in the low-mass region might help validate the identification of modified sequences. (3) Results: Diagnostic ions carry key information, thereby avoiding potential mis-identifications due to either isobaric PTM combinations or isobaric amino acid-PTM combinations. This also includes cases where chemical formylation or acetylation of peptide N-termini artefactually occurs during sample processing or simply in the timeframe of LC-MS/MS analysis. Finally, in the very subtle case of positional isomers possibly corresponding to a given mass of lysine modification, the immonium and diagnostic ions may allow the identification of the in vivo structure.

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