Cytoplasmic protein methylation is essential for neural crest migration

Katie L. Vermillion, Kevin A. Lidberg, Laura S Gammill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


As they initiate migration in vertebrate embryos, neural crest cells are enriched for methylation cycle enzymes, including S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase (SAHH), the only known enzyme to hydrolyze the feedback inhibitor of trans-methylation reactions. The importance of methylation in neural crest migration is unknown. Here, we show that SAHH is required for emigration of polarized neural crest cells, indicating that methylation is essential for neural crest migration. Although nuclear histone methylation regulates neural crest gene expression, SAHH and lysine-methylated proteins are abundant in the cytoplasm of migratory neural crest cells. Proteomic profiling of cytoplasmic, lysine-methylated proteins from migratory neural crest cells identified 182 proteins, several of which are cytoskeleton related. A methylation-resistant form of one of these proteins, the actin-binding protein elongation factor 1 alpha 1 (EF1α1), blocks neural crest migration. Altogether, these data reveal a novel and essential role for post-translational nonhistone protein methylation during neural crest migration and define a previously unknown requirement for EF1α1 methylation in migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-109
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2014


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