Stable-isotope-labeled histone peptide library for histone post-translational modification and variant quantification by mass spectrometry

Shu Lin, Samuel Wein, Michelle Gonzales-Cope, Gabriel L. Otte, Zuo Fei Yuan, Leila Afjehi-Sadat, Tobias Maile, Shelley L. Berger, John Rush, Jennie R. Lill, David Arnott, Benjamin A. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


To facilitate accurate histone variant and post-translational modification (PTM) quantification via mass spectrometry, we present a library of 93 synthetic peptides using Protein-Aqua™ technology. The library contains 55 peptides representing different modified forms from histone H3 peptides, 23 peptides representing H4 peptides, 5 peptides representing canonical H2A peptides, 8 peptides representing H2A.Z peptides, and peptides for both macroH2A and H2A.X. The PTMs on these peptides include lysine mono- (me1), di- (me2), and tri-methylation (me3); lysine acetylation; arginine me1; serine/threonine phosphorylation; and N-terminal acetylation. The library was subjected to chemical derivatization with propionic anhydride, a widely employed protocol for histone peptide quantification. Subsequently, the detection efficiencies were quantified using mass spectrometry extracted ion chromatograms. The library yields a wide spectrum of detection efficiencies, with more than 1700-fold difference between the peptides with the lowest and highest efficiencies. In this paper, we describe the impact of different modifications on peptide detection efficiencies and provide a resource to correct for detection biases among the 93 histone peptides. In brief, there is no correlation between detection efficiency and molecular weight, hydrophobicity, basicity, or modification type. The same types of modifications may have very different effects on detection efficiencies depending on their positions within a peptide. We also observed antagonistic effects between modifications. In a study of mouse trophoblast stem cells, we utilized the detection efficiencies of the peptide library to correct for histone PTM/variant quantification. For most histone peptides examined, the corrected data did not change the biological conclusions but did alter the relative abundance of these peptides. For a low-abundant histone H2A variant, macroH2A, the corrected data led to a different conclusion than the uncorrected data. The peptide library and detection efficiencies presented here may serve as a resource to facilitate studies in the epigenetics and proteomics fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2450-2466
Number of pages17
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


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