Mentors: Jianping Cui and Henry Jung
Modifications of histone proteins can affect DNA transcription and gene expression. Studies of one type of modification — methylation or demethylation — have revealed which enzymes modify which parts of the histone tails. The enzymes that cause acetylation, another type of histone modification, are known, although it remains to be seen if the enzymes that cause histone deacetylation (HDACs) also map to various parts of the histone tails.
With her mentors, Antonia initiated a project to identify and map such specificity through the use of HDAC inhibitors. Antonia added various HDAC inhibitors to cells, isolated the histones from these cells, and then analyzed the state of histone modification by mass spectrometry. Her research showed that different sites on the histone tails can be modified to different degrees. She also found that some HDAC inhibitors have unique effects on the modification of specific histone sites.
Antonia, a Medford High School senior, used proteomics to study the modification of histone proteins.