RNA modifications are indispensable for the translation machinery to provide accurate and efficient protein synthesis. Whereas the importance of transfer RNA (tRNA) and ribosomal RNA (rRNA) modifications has been well described and is unquestioned for decades, the significance of internal messenger RNA (mRNA) modifications has only recently been revealed. Novel experimental methods have enabled the identification of thousands of modified sites within the untranslated and translated regions of mRNAs. Thus far, N6 -methyladenosine (m6 A), pseudouridine (Ψ), 5-methylcytosine (m5 C) and N1 -methyladenosine (m1 A) were identified in eukaryal, and to some extent in prokaryal mRNAs. Several of the functions of these mRNA modifications have previously been reported, but many aspects remain elusive. Modifications can be important factors for the direct regulation of protein synthesis. The potential diversification of genomic information and regulation of RNA expression through editing and modifying mRNAs is versatile and many questions need to be addressed to completely elucidate the role of mRNA modifications. Herein, we summarize and highlight some recent findings on various co- and post-transcriptional modifications, describing the impact of these processes on gene expression, with emphasis on protein synthesis. WIREs RNA 2017, 8:e1375. doi: 10.1002/wrna.1375 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
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