Jove: Mass Spectrometry Analysis to Identify Ubiquitylation of EYFP-tagged CENP-A (EYFP-CENP-A)

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Summary

CENP-A ubiquitylation is an important requirement for CENP-A deposition at the centromere, inherited through dimerization between cell division, and indispensable to cell viability. Here we describe mass spectrometry analysis to identify ubiquitylation of EYFP-tagged CENP-A (EYFP-CENP-A) protein.

Abstract
Studying the structure and the dynamics of kinetochores and centromeres is important in understanding chromosomal instability (CIN) and cancer progression. How the chromosomal location and function of a centromere (i.e., centromere identity) are determined and participate in accurate chromosome segregation is a fundamental question. CENP-A is proposed to be the non-DNA indicator (epigenetic mark) of centromere identity, and CENP-A ubiquitylation is required for CENP-A deposition at the centromere, inherited through dimerization between cell division, and indispensable to cell viability.
Here we describe mass spectrometry analysis to identify ubiquitylation of EYFP-CENP-A K124R mutant suggesting that ubiquitylation at a different lysine is induced because of the EYFP tagging in the CENP-A K124R mutant protein. Lysine 306 (K306) ubiquitylation in EYFP-CENP-A K124R was successfully identified, which corresponds to lysine 56 (K56) in CENP-A through mass spectrometry analysis. A caveat is discussed in the use of GFP/EYFP or the tagging of high molecular weight protein as a tool to analyze the function of a protein. The current technical limit is also discussed for the detection of ubiquitylated bands, identification of site-specific ubiquitylation(s), and visualization of ubiquitylation in living cells or a specific single cell during the whole cell cycle.
The method of mass spectrometry analysis presented here can be applied to human CENP-A protein with different tags and other centromere-kinetochore proteins. These combinatory methods consisting of several assays/analyses could be recommended for researchers who are interested in identifying functional roles of ubiquitylation.

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