Posttranscriptional RNA Modifications: playing metabolic games in a cell's chemical Legoland

Chem Biol. 2014 Feb 20;21(2):174-85. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2013.10.015. Epub 2013 Dec 5.


Nature combines existing biochemical building blocks, at times with subtlety of purpose. RNA modifications are a prime example of this, where standard RNA nucleosides are decorated with chemical groups and building blocks that we recall from our basic biochemistry lectures. The result: a wealth of chemical diversity whose full biological relevance has remained elusive despite being public knowledge for some time. Here, we highlight several modifications that, because of their chemical intricacy, rely on seemingly unrelated pathways to provide cofactors for their synthesis. Besides their immediate role in affecting RNA function, modifications may act as sensors and transducers of information that connect a cell's metabolic state to its translational output, carefully orchestrating a delicate balance between metabolic rate and protein synthesis at a system's level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticodon
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism
  • Uridine / chemistry
  • Uridine / metabolism


  • Anticodon
  • RNA
  • RNA, Transfer
  • Uridine