Nature communications

Comprehensive identification of arginine methylation in primary T cells reveals regulatory roles in cell signalling.

PMID 25849564


The impact of protein arginine methylation on the regulation of immune functions is virtually unknown. Here, we apply a novel method—isomethionine methyl-SILAC—coupled with antibody-mediated arginine-methylated peptide enrichment to identify methylated peptides in human T cells by mass spectrometry. This approach allowed the identification of 2,502 arginine methylation sites from 1,257 tissue-specific and housekeeping proteins. We find that components of T cell antigen receptor signal machinery and several key transcription factors that regulate T cell fate determination are methylated on arginine. Moreover, we demonstrate changes in arginine methylation stoichiometry during cellular stimulation in a subset of proteins critical to T cell differentiation. Our data suggest that protein arginine methyltransferases exert key regulatory roles in T cell activation and differentiation, opening a new field of investigation in T cell biology.