Adenosine-to-inosine RNA editing modifies maturing mRNAs through the binding of adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (Adar) proteins to double-stranded RNA structures in a process critical for neuronal function. Editing levels at individual editing sites span a broad range and are mediated by both cis-acting elements (surrounding RNA sequence and secondary structure) and trans-acting factors. Here, we aim to determine the roles that cis-acting elements and trans-acting factors play in regulating editing levels. Using two closely related Drosophila species, D. melanogaster and D. sechellia, and their F1 hybrids, we dissect the effects of cis sequences from trans regulators on editing levels by comparing species-specific editing in parents and their hybrids. We report that cis sequence differences are largely responsible for editing level differences between these two Drosophila species. This study presents evidence for cis sequence and structure changes as the dominant evolutionary force that modulates RNA editing levels between these Drosophila species.
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