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Mol Cell Biol. 1985 Sep;5(9):2298-306.

Precise localization of m6A in Rous sarcoma virus RNA reveals clustering of methylation sites: implications for RNA processing.


N6-methyladenosine (m6A) residues are present as internal base modifications in most higher eucaryotic mRNAs; however, the biological function of this modification is not known. We describe a method for localizing and quantitating m6A within a large RNA molecule, the genomic RNA of Rous sarcoma virus. Specific fragments of 32P-labeled Rous sarcoma virus RNA were isolated by hybridization with complementary DNA restriction fragments spanning nucleotides 6185 to 8050. RNA was digested with RNase and finger-printed, and individual oligonucleotides were analyzed for the presence of m6A by paper electrophoresis and thin-layer chromatography. With this technique, seven sites of methylation in this region of the Rous sarcoma virus genome were localized at nucleotides 6394, 6447, 6507, 6718, 7414, 7424, and 8014. Further, m6A was observed at two additional sites whose nucleotide assignments remain ambiguous. A clustering of two or more m6A residues was seen at three positions within the RNA analyzed. Modification at certain sites was found to be heterogeneous, in that different molecules of RNA appeared to be methylated differently. Previous studies have determined that methylation occurs only in the sequences Gm6AC and Am6AC. We observed a high frequency of methylation at PuGm6ACU sequences. The possible involvement of m6A in RNA splicing events is discussed.

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