Background: A-to-I RNA-editing mediated by ADAR (adenosine deaminase acting on RNA) enzymes that converts adenosine to inosine in RNA sequence can generate mutations and alter gene regulation in metazoans. Previous studies have shown that A-to-I RNA-editing plays vital roles in mouse embryogenesis. However, the RNA-editing activities in early human embryonic development have not been investigated.
Results: Here, we characterized genome-wide A-to-I RNA-editing activities during human early embryogenesis by profiling 68 single cells from 29 human embryos spanning from oocyte to morula stages. We demonstrate dynamic changes in genome-wide RNA-editing during early human embryogenesis in a stage-specific fashion. In parallel with ADAR expression level changes, the genome-wide A-to-I RNA-editing levels in cells remained relatively stable until 4-cell stage, but dramatically decreased at 8-cell stage, continually decreased at morula stage. We detected 37 non-synonymously RNA-edited genes, of which 5 were frequently found in cells of multiple embryonic stages. Moreover, we found that A-to-I editings in miRNA-targeted regions of a substantial number of genes preferably occurred in one or two sequential stages.
Conclusions: Our single-cell analysis reveals dynamic changes in genome-wide RNA-editing during early human embryogenesis in a stage-specific fashion, and provides important insights into early human embryogenesis.
Keywords: Embryogenesis; RNA-editing; Single cell transcriptome.