The pivotal regulatory landscape of RNA modifications

Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2014;15:127-50. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genom-090413-025405. Epub 2014 Jun 2.


Posttranscriptionally modified nucleosides in RNA play integral roles in the cellular control of biological information that is encoded in DNA. The modifications of RNA span all three phylogenetic domains (Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya) and are pervasive across RNA types, including messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and (less frequently) small nuclear RNA (snRNA) and microRNA (miRNA). Nucleotide modifications are also one of the most evolutionarily conserved properties of RNAs, and the sites of modification are under strong selective pressure. However, many of these modifications, as well as their prevalence and impact, have only recently been discovered. Here, we examine both labile and permanent modifications, from simple methylation to complex transcript alteration (RNA editing and intron retention); detail the models for their processing; and highlight remaining questions in the field of the epitranscriptome.

Keywords: RNA editing; epitranscriptome; m6A; ribonucleotide modifications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / genetics
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • DNA / genetics
  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Introns / genetics
  • Methylation
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Nucleosides / genetics*
  • Nucleosides / metabolism
  • RNA Editing / genetics*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Small Nuclear / genetics
  • RNA, Small Nuclear / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs
  • Nucleosides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Nuclear
  • DNA