Histones and their variants are subjected to several post-translational modifications (PTMs). Histones PTMs play an important role in the regulation of gene expression and are critical for the development and progression of many types of cancer, including breast cancer. In this study, we used two-dimensional TAU/SDS electrophoresis, coupled with mass spectrometry for a comprehensive profiling of histone PTMs in breast cancer cell lines.

Proteomic approach allowed us to identify 85 histone PTMs, seventeen of which are not reported in the UniProt database. Western blot analysis was performed to confirm a peculiar pattern of PTMs in the sporadic and hereditary breast cancer cell lines compared to normal cells. Overlapping mass spectrometry data with western blotting results, we identified, for the first time to our knowledge, a tyrosine phosphorylation on histone H1, which is significantly higher in breast cancer cells. Additionally, by inhibiting specific signaling paths, such as PI3K, PPARγ and FAK pathways, we established a correlation between their regulation and the presence of new histone PTMs. Our results may provide new insight on the possible implication of these modifications in breast cancer and may offer new perspectives for future clinical applications.