Challenges ahead for mass spectrometry and proteomics applications in epigenetics.
Inheritance of biological information to future generations depends on the replication of DNA and the Mendelian principle of distribution of genes. In addition, external and environmental factors can influence traits that can be propagated to offspring, but the molecular details of this are only beginning to be understood. The discoveries of DNA methylation and post-translational modifications on chromatin and histones provided entry points for regulating gene expression, an area now defined as epigenetics and epigenomics. Mass spectrometry turned out to be instrumental in uncovering molecular details involved in these processes. The central role of histone post-translational modifications in epigenetics related biological processes has revitalized mass spectrometry based investigations. In this special report, current approaches and future challenges that lay ahead due to the enormous complexity are discussed.