Combinatorial Histone H3 Modifications Are Dynamically Altered in Distinct Cell Cycle Phases

Congcong Lu, Mariel Coradin, Kevin A. Janssen, Simone Sidoli, Benjamin A. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The cell cycle is a highly regulated and evolutionary conserved process that results in the duplication of cell content and the equal distribution of the duplicated chromosomes into a pair of daughter cells. Histones are fundamental structural components of chromatin in eukaryotic cells, and their post-translational modifications (PTMs) benchmark DNA readout and chromosome condensation. Aberrant regulation of the cell cycle associated with dysregulation of histone PTMs is the cause of critical diseases such as cancer. Monitoring changes of histone PTMs could pave the way to understanding the molecular mechanisms associated with epigenetic regulation of cell proliferation. Previously, our lab established a novel middle-down workflow using porous graphitic carbon (PGC) as a stationary phase to analyze histone PTMs, which utilizes the same reversed-phase chromatography for gradient separation as canonical proteomics coupled with online mass spectrometry (MS). Here, we applied this novel workflow for high-throughput analysis of histone modifications of H3.1 and H3.2 during the cell cycle. Collectively, we identified 1133 uniquely modified canonical histone H3 N-terminal tails. Consistent with previous findings, histone H3 phosphorylation increased significantly during the mitosis (M) phase. Histone H3 variant-specific and cell-cycle-dependent expressions of PTMs were observed, underlining the need to not combine H3.1 and H3.2 together as H3. We confirmed previously known H3 PTM crosstalk (e.g., K9me-S10ph) and revealed new information in this area as well. These findings imply that the combinatorial PTMs play a role in cell cycle control, and they may serve as markers for proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1300-1311
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • H3 variants
  • cell cycle
  • histone modifications
  • middle-down
  • quantitative proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy


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