Advances in next-generation sequencing and mass spectrometry have revealed widespread messenger RNA modifications and RNA editing, with dramatic effects on mammalian transcriptomes. Factors introducing, deleting, or interpreting specific modifications have been identified, and analogous with epigenetic terminology, have been designated "writers," "erasers," and "readers." Such modifications in the transcriptome are referred to as epitranscriptomic changes and represent a fascinating new layer of gene expression regulation that has only recently been appreciated. Here, we outline how RNA editing and RNA modification can rapidly affect gene expression, making both processes as well suited to respond to cellular stress and to regulate the transcriptome during development or circadian periods.
© 2016 Licht and Jantsch.