Post-translational modifications on histones can be stable epigenetic marks and transient signals that can occur in response to internal and external stimuli. Levels of histone modifications fluctuate during the cell cycle and vary among different cell types. Here we describe a simple system to monitor the levels of multiple histone modifications in single cells by multicolor immunofluorescence using directly labeled modification-specific antibodies. We first analyzed histone H3 and H4 modifications during the cell cycle. Levels of active marks, such as acetylation and H3K4 methylation, were increased during the S phase, in association with chromatin duplication. By contrast, levels of some repressive modifications gradually increased during the G2 and the next G1 phases. We applied this method to validate the target modifications of various histone demethylases in cells using a transient overexpression system. We also screened chemical compounds in marine organism extracts that affect histone modifications and identified psammaplin A, which was previously reported to inhibit histone deacetylases. Thus, the method presented here is a powerful and convenient tool for analyzing the changes in histone modifications. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license .
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