RNA nucleotide methylation

Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. 2011 Sep-Oct;2(5):611-31. doi: 10.1002/wrna.79. Epub 2011 Mar 23.


Methylation of RNA occurs at a variety of atoms, nucleotides, sequences and tertiary structures. Strongly related to other posttranscriptional modifications, methylation of different RNA species includes tRNA, rRNA, mRNA, tmRNA, snRNA, snoRNA, miRNA, and viral RNA. Different catalytic strategies are employed for RNA methylation by a variety of RNA-methyltransferases which fall into four superfamilies. This review outlines the different functions of methyl groups in RNA, including biophysical, biochemical and metabolic stabilization of RNA, quality control, resistance to antibiotics, mRNA reading frame maintenance, deciphering of normal and altered genetic code, selenocysteine incorporation, tRNA aminoacylation, ribotoxins, splicing, intracellular trafficking, immune response, and others. Connections to other fields including gene regulation, DNA repair, stress response, and possibly histone acetylation and exocytosis are pointed out. WIREs RNA 2011 2 611-631 DOI: 10.1002/wrna.79 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Biocatalysis
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Methylation
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA, Archaeal / genetics
  • RNA, Archaeal / metabolism
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal / chemistry
  • RNA, Ribosomal / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer / chemistry
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism
  • RNA, Viral / chemistry
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • tRNA Methyltransferases / metabolism*


  • RNA, Archaeal
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Viral
  • RNA
  • RNA, Transfer
  • tRNA Methyltransferases