mRNA modifications: Dynamic regulators of gene expression?

RNA Biol. 2016 Sep;13(9):760-5. doi: 10.1080/15476286.2016.1203504. Epub 2016 Jun 28.


The expression of a gene is a tightly regulated process and is exerted by a myriad of different mechanisms. Recently, RNA modifications located in coding sequences of mRNAs, have been identified as potential regulators of gene expression. N(6)-methyladenosine (m(6)A), 5-methylcytosine (m(5)C), pseudouridine (Ψ) and N(1)-methyladenosine (m(1)A) have been found within open reading frames of mRNAs. The presence of these mRNA modifications has been implicated to modulate the fate of an mRNA, ranging from maturation to its translation and even degradation. However, many aspects concerning the biological functions of mRNA modifications remain elusive. Recently, systematic in vitro studies allowed a first glimpse of the direct interplay of mRNA modifications and the efficiency and fidelity of ribosomal translation. It thereby became evident that the effects of mRNA modifications were, astonishingly versatile, depending on the type, position or sequence context. The incorporation of a single modification could either prematurely terminate protein synthesis, reduce the peptide yield or alter the amino acid sequence identity. These results implicate that mRNA modifications are a powerful mechanism to post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression.

Keywords: Gene expression; mRNA modifications; ribosome; translation regulation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger