Top-down analysis of recombinant histone H3 and its methylated analogs by ESI/FT-ICR mass spectrometry

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Detailed characterization of the amino acid (aa) compositions of recombinant histone H3 (Xenopus laevis) and its Lys-9 mono-, di-, and trimethylated isoforms was carried out by ESI/FT-ICR-MS. The measured molecular masses of these four proteins did not agree with those predicted from the published wild-type histone H3 sequence. Using MS/MS with both collision-activated dissociation and electron capture dissociation, three aa substitutions (Gly102Ala, Cys110Ala, and Gly111Ala) were unambiguously identified in each protein by protein database searching and de novo peptide tag sequencing. In addition, it was determined through accurate mass measurement and elemental composition generation that Lys-9, to which the methyl groups are attached, is not in fact a lysine. Instead, it was identified as a chemical analog of lysine - aminoethylcysteine - in the methylated proteins. After incorporation of these three aa substitutions and the aminoethylcysteine into the protein sequences, the re-calculated molecular masses of four proteins were completely consistent with the measured values within 1 ppm. This work demonstrates the power of top-down MS for a detailed structural confirmation of recombinant proteins, even without prior information on aa substitutions or modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3621-3630
Number of pages10
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Collision-activated dissociation
  • Electron capture dissociation
  • Recombinant histone H3 methylation
  • Technology
  • Top-down MS


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