2016 Volume 10 Issue 5 Pages 357-364
Various histones, including testis-specific histones, exist during spermatogenesis and some of them have been reported to play a key role in chromatin remodeling. Mass spectrometry (MS)-based characterization has become the important step to understand histone structures. Although individual histones or partial histone variant groups have been characterized, the comprehensive analysis of histone variants has not yet been conducted in the mouse testis. Here, we present the comprehensive separation and characterization of histone variants from mouse testes by a top-down approach using MS. Histone variants were successfully separated on a reversed phase column using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with an ion-pairing reagent. Increasing concentrations of testis-specific histones were observed in the mouse testis and some somatic histones increased in the epididymis. Specifically, the increase of mass abundance in H3.2 in the epididymis was inversely proportional to the decrease in H3t in the testis, which was approximately 80%. The top-down characterization of intact histone variants in the mouse testis was performed using LC-MS/MS. The masses of separated histone variants and their expected post-translation modifications were calculated by performing deconvolution with information taken from the database. TH2A, TH2B and H3t were characterized by MS/MS fragmentation. Our approach provides comprehensive knowledge for identification of histone variants in the mouse testis that will contribute to the structural and functional research of histone variants during spermatogenesis.