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J Interferon Cytokine Res. 2011 Jan;31(1):99-117. doi: 10.1089/jir.2010.0097. Epub 2010 Dec 23.

Adenosine deaminases acting on RNA, RNA editing, and interferon action.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA.


Adenosine deaminases acting on RNA (ADARs) catalyze adenosine (A) to inosine (I) editing of RNA that possesses double-stranded (ds) structure. A-to-I RNA editing results in nucleotide substitution, because I is recognized as G instead of A both by ribosomes and by RNA polymerases. A-to-I substitution can also cause dsRNA destabilization, as I:U mismatch base pairs are less stable than A:U base pairs. Three mammalian ADAR genes are known, of which two encode active deaminases (ADAR1 and ADAR2). Alternative promoters together with alternative splicing give rise to two protein size forms of ADAR1: an interferon-inducible ADAR1-p150 deaminase that binds dsRNA and Z-DNA, and a constitutively expressed ADAR1-p110 deaminase. ADAR2, like ADAR1-p110, is constitutively expressed and binds dsRNA. A-to-I editing occurs with both viral and cellular RNAs, and affects a broad range of biological processes. These include virus growth and persistence, apoptosis and embryogenesis, neurotransmitter receptor and ion channel function, pancreatic cell function, and post-transcriptional gene regulation by microRNAs. Biochemical processes that provide a framework for understanding the physiologic changes following ADAR-catalyzed A-to-I ( = G) editing events include mRNA translation by changing codons and hence the amino acid sequence of proteins; pre-mRNA splicing by altering splice site recognition sequences; RNA stability by changing sequences involved in nuclease recognition; genetic stability in the case of RNA virus genomes by changing sequences during viral RNA replication; and RNA-structure-dependent activities such as microRNA production or targeting or protein-RNA interactions.

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