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RNA. 2006 Nov;12(11):2025-33. Epub 2006 Sep 8.

A systematic, ligation-based approach to study RNA modifications.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


Over 100 different chemical types of modifications have been identified in thousands of sites in tRNAs, rRNAs, mRNAs, small nuclear RNAs, and other RNAs. Some modifications are highly conserved, while others are more specialized. They include methylation of bases and the ribose backbone, rotation, and reduction of uridine, base deamination, elaborate addition of ring structures, carbohydrate moieties, and more. We have developed a systematic approach to detect and quantify the extent of known RNA modifications. The method is based on the enzymatic ligation of oligonucleotides using the modified or unmodified RNA as the template. The efficiency of ligation is very sensitive to the presence and the type of modifications. First, two oligo pairs for each type of modification are identified. One pair greatly prefers ligation using the unmodified RNA template over the modified RNA template or vice versa. The other pair has equal reactivity with unmodified and modified RNA. Second, separate ligations with each of the two oligo pairs and the total RNA mixture are performed to detect the presence or absence of modifications. Multiple modification sites can be examined in the same ligation reaction. The feasibility of this method is demonstrated for three 2'O-methyl modification sites in yeast rRNA.

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