Send to

Choose Destination
Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. 2013 Jul-Aug;4(4):397-422. doi: 10.1002/wrna.1166. Epub 2013 May 16.

Mapping and significance of the mRNA methylome.

Author information

Genome Biology Department, The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.


Internal methylation of eukaryotic mRNAs in the form of N6-methyladenosine (m(6)A) and 5-methylcytidine (m(5)C) has long been known to exist, but progress in understanding its role was hampered by difficulties in identifying individual sites. This was recently overcome by high-throughput sequencing-based methods that mapped thousands of sites for both modifications throughout mammalian transcriptomes, with most sites found in mRNAs. The topology of m(6)A in mouse and human revealed both conserved and variable sites as well as plasticity in response to extracellular cues. Within mRNAs, m(5)C and m(6)A sites were relatively depleted in coding sequences and enriched in untranslated regions, suggesting functional interactions with post-transcriptional gene control. Finer distribution analyses and preexisting literature point toward roles in the regulation of mRNA splicing, translation, or decay, through an interplay with RNA-binding proteins and microRNAs. The methyltransferase (MTase) METTL3 'writes' m(6)A marks on mRNA, whereas the demethylase FTO can 'erase' them. The RNA:m(5)C MTases NSUN2 and TRDMT1 have roles in tRNA methylation but they also act on mRNA. Proper functioning of these enzymes is important in development and there are clear links to human disease. For instance, a common variant of FTO is a risk allele for obesity carried by 1 billion people worldwide and mutations cause a lethal syndrome with growth retardation and brain deficits. NSUN2 is linked to cancer and stem cell biology and mutations cause intellectual disability. In this review, we summarize the advances, open questions, and intriguing possibilities in this emerging field that might be called RNA modomics or epitranscriptomics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center