Histone Acid Extraction and High Throughput Mass Spectrometry to Profile Histone Modifications in Arabidopsis thaliana

Ray Scheid, James A. Dowell, Dean Sanders, Jianjun Jiang, John M. Denu, Xuehua Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) play important roles in many biological processes, including gene regulation and chromatin dynamics, and are thus of high interest across many fields of biological research. Chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with sequencing (ChIP-seq) is a powerful tool to profile histone PTMs in vivo. This method, however, is largely dependent on the specificity and availability of suitable commercial antibodies. While mass spectrometry (MS)–based proteomic approaches to quantitatively measure histone PTMs have been developed in mammals and several other model organisms, such methods are currently not readily available in plants. One major challenge for the implementation of such methods in plants has been the difficulty in isolating sufficient amounts of pure, high-quality histones, a step rendered difficult by the presence of the cell wall. Here, we developed a high-yielding histone extraction and purification method optimized for Arabidopsis thaliana that can be used to obtain high-quality histones for MS. In contrast to other methods used in plants, this approach is relatively simple, and does not require membranes or additional specialized steps, such as gel excision or chromatography, to extract highly purified histones. We also describe methods for producing MS-ready histone peptides through chemical labeling and digestion. Finally, we describe an optimized method to quantify and analyze the resulting histone PTM data using a modified version of EpiProfile 2.0 for Arabidopsis. In all, the workflow described here can be used to measure changes to histone PTMs resulting from various treatments, stresses, and time courses, as well as in different mutant lines.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere527
JournalCurrent Protocols
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Arabidopsis
  • acid extraction
  • histones
  • mass spectrometry
  • plant


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