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Identification of arginine- and lysine-methylation in the proteome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and its functional implications

Chi Nam Ignatius Pang12, Elisabeth Gasteiger3 and Marc R Wilkins12*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia

2 Systems Biology Initiative, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia

3 Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Swiss-Prot Group, CMU - 1, rue Michel Servet, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:92  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-92

Published: 5 February 2010



The methylation of eukaryotic proteins has been proposed to be widespread, but this has not been conclusively shown to date. In this study, we examined 36,854 previously generated peptide mass spectra from 2,607 Saccharomyces cerevisiae proteins for the presence of arginine and lysine methylation. This was done using the FindMod tool and 5 filters that took advantage of the high number of replicate analysis per protein and the presence of overlapping peptides.


A total of 83 high-confidence lysine and arginine methylation sites were found in 66 proteins. Motif analysis revealed many methylated sites were associated with MK, RGG/RXG/RGX or WXXXR motifs. Functionally, methylated proteins were significantly enriched for protein translation, ribosomal biogenesis and assembly and organellar organisation and were predominantly found in the cytoplasm and ribosome. Intriguingly, methylated proteins were seen to have significantly longer half-life than proteins for which no methylation was found. Some 43% of methylated lysine sites were predicted to be amenable to ubiquitination, suggesting methyl-lysine might block the action of ubiquitin ligase.


This study suggests protein methylation to be quite widespread, albeit associated with specific functions. Large-scale tandem mass spectroscopy analyses will help to further confirm the modifications reported here.