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    Silac Labeling Quantification of Histone Modifications

      SILAC (Stable Isotope Labeling by Amino acids in Cell culture) is a mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics technique used for the quantitative comparison of protein expression and modifications under various conditions. This technique is particularly beneficial for studying the dynamic changes in post-translational protein modifications (such as phosphorylation, ubiquitination, acetylation, etc.). SILAC achieves protein quantification by using amino acids labeled with stable isotopes (such as lysine and arginine labeled with heavy nitrogen (^15N) or heavy carbon (^13C)) in cell culture. Cells incorporate these labeled amino acids into newly synthesized proteins, allowing them to be distinguished during proteomic mass spectrometry analysis.


      Analysis Workflow

      1. Cell Culture

      One group of cells is cultured with a medium containing regular amino acids (light labeled), and another group is cultured with a medium containing heavy amino acids (heavy labeled). After several generations of growth, all newly synthesized proteins will contain the corresponding light/heavy amino acids.


      2. Sample Processing

      Cells under different conditions (e.g., treatment group vs control group) are processed, collected, and lysed to extract proteins.


      3. Protein Digestion

      The protein mixture is digested into peptides using an enzyme (usually trypsin).


      4. Mass Spectrometry Analysis

      The digested peptides are analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Heavy-labeled and light-labeled peptides can be distinguished in the mass spectrum due to the tiny mass differences derived from the amino acids containing different isotopes.


      5. Data Analysis

      By comparing the heavy/light peak ratios of the same peptides in different samples, relative abundance changes in proteins or protein modifications can be quantitatively analyzed.


      Service Advantages

      SILAC has unique advantages in studying histone modifications. Histone modifications, such as methylation, acetylation, and phosphorylation, are crucial for regulating gene expression and cell fate. Through SILAC, researchers can quantitatively analyze the dynamic changes of these modifications under different biological conditions, revealing their functions in biological processes.


      1. High Precision and Sensitivity

      SILAC provides a highly precise quantification method that can detect minor changes in protein and protein modification levels.


      2. No Need for Chemical Labeling

      Compared to some quantitative proteomics techniques that require chemical labeling, SILAC avoids chemical modifications that could potentially affect proteins or protein modifications.


      3. Applicable to Complex Samples

      SILAC can be used with complex biological samples and allows for quantitative analysis at the whole proteome level.



      1. Cost

      The cost of heavy-labeled amino acids is relatively high.


      2. Cell Type Limitations

      Not all cell types can effectively utilize heavy amino acids for protein synthesis.


      3. Data Processing Complexity

      Professional software and analytical skills are required to process and interpret mass spectrometry data.


      Quantitative analysis of histone modifications using SILAC labeling provides a powerful and precise tool for studying post-translational protein modifications, contributing to the understanding of histone modifications' roles in cellular physiology and disease. As analytical techniques advance and costs decrease, SILAC and its variant techniques will play an increasingly important role in biomedical research.

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