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PLoS Genet. 2017 Feb 6;13(2):e1006563. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006563. eCollection 2017 Feb.

Evolutionary analysis reveals regulatory and functional landscape of coding and non-coding RNA editing.

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Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.
State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, P. R. China.


Adenosine-to-inosine RNA editing diversifies the transcriptome and promotes functional diversity, particularly in the brain. A plethora of editing sites has been recently identified; however, how they are selected and regulated and which are functionally important are largely unknown. Here we show the cis-regulation and stepwise selection of RNA editing during Drosophila evolution and pinpoint a large number of functional editing sites. We found that the establishment of editing and variation in editing levels across Drosophila species are largely explained and predicted by cis-regulatory elements. Furthermore, editing events that arose early in the species tree tend to be more highly edited in clusters and enriched in slowly-evolved neuronal genes, thus suggesting that the main role of RNA editing is for fine-tuning neurological functions. While nonsynonymous editing events have been long recognized as playing a functional role, in addition to nonsynonymous editing sites, a large fraction of 3'UTR editing sites is evolutionarily constrained, highly edited, and thus likely functional. We find that these 3'UTR editing events can alter mRNA stability and affect miRNA binding and thus highlight the functional roles of noncoding RNA editing. Our work, through evolutionary analyses of RNA editing in Drosophila, uncovers novel insights of RNA editing regulation as well as its functions in both coding and non-coding regions.

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