U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Eur. J. Biochem. 271,2257–2263 (2004).


Folding of DNA into chromatin is mediated by binding to histones such as H4; association of DNA with histones is regulated by covalent histone modifications, e.g. acetylation, methylation, and biotinylation.We sought to identify aminoacid residues that are biotinylated in histone H4,and to determine whether acetylation and methylation of histones affect biotinylation. Synthetic peptides spanning fragments of human histone H4 were biotinylated enzymatically using biotinidase. Peptide-bound biotin was probed with streptavidin– peroxidase. Peptides based on the N-terminal sequence of histone H4 were effectively recognized by biotinidase as substrates for biotinylation; in contrast, peptides based on the C-terminal sequences were not biotinylated. Substitution of K8 or K12 with alanine or arginine decreased biotinylation, suggesting that these lysines are targets for biotinylation; K8 andK12 are also known targets for acetylation. Chemical acetylation or methylation of a given lysine decreased subsequent enzymatic biotinylation of neighboring lysines, consistent with cross-talk among histone modifications. Substitution of a given lysine (positive charge) with glutamate (negative charge) abolished biotinylation of neighboring lysines, providing evidence that the net charge of histones has a role in biotinylation. An antibody was generated that specifically recognized histone H4 biotinylated at K12. This antibody was used to detect biotinylated histone H4 in nuclear extracts from human cells. These studies suggest that K8 and K12 in histone H4 are targets for biotinylation, that acetylation and biotinylation compete for the same binding sites, and that acetylation and methylation of histones affect biotinylation of neighboring lysines.