N6-Methyladenosine in Flaviviridae Viral RNA Genomes Regulates Infection

Cell Host Microbe. 2016 Nov 9;20(5):654-665. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2016.09.015. Epub 2016 Oct 20.


The RNA modification N6-methyladenosine (m6A) post-transcriptionally regulates RNA function. The cellular machinery that controls m6A includes methyltransferases and demethylases that add or remove this modification, as well as m6A-binding YTHDF proteins that promote the translation or degradation of m6A-modified mRNA. We demonstrate that m6A modulates infection by hepatitis C virus (HCV). Depletion of m6A methyltransferases or an m6A demethylase, respectively, increases or decreases infectious HCV particle production. During HCV infection, YTHDF proteins relocalize to lipid droplets, sites of viral assembly, and their depletion increases infectious viral particles. We further mapped m6A sites across the HCV genome and determined that inactivating m6A in one viral genomic region increases viral titer without affecting RNA replication. Additional mapping of m6A on the RNA genomes of other Flaviviridae, including dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and West Nile virus, identifies conserved regions modified by m6A. Altogether, this work identifies m6A as a conserved regulatory mark across Flaviviridae genomes.

Keywords: Flaviviridae; HCV; N6-methyladenosine; RNA-modifications; West Nile; Zika; dengue; m(6)A; viral particle production; yellow fever.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Flaviviridae / genetics*
  • Flaviviridae / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / metabolism
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • Viral Load
  • Virus Replication*


  • RNA, Viral
  • N6-methyladenosine (m6A)
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating
  • Methyltransferases
  • Adenosine