Mighty Modifications

Histone acetylation levels keep intracellular pH in check.

Beth Marie Mole
Apr 1, 2013


HISTONE pH: As the pH of media decreases from alkaline to acidic, global histone acetylation (green) in HeLa cells diminishes.COURTESY OF MATTHEW MCBRIAN AND SIAVASH KURDISTANI

The Paper
M.A. McBrian et al., “Histone acetylation regulates intracellular pH,” Mol Cell, 49:310-21, 2013.

The problem
Genome-wide levels of histone acetylation—the epigenetic process commonly associated with upregulated local gene expression—are dynamic and can vary widely among cells in different tissues and in tumors. Moreover, scientists have linked low global histone acetylation levels in cancer cells to poor clinical outcomes. Siavash Kurdistani and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, wanted to know what causes these differences and what they mean for the cell.

The formula
Kurdistani and colleagues started tweaking all the components of cell culture media to see what factors might affect acetylation levels. When they lowered the pH of the media, resulting in...