RNA binding to APOBEC deaminases; Not simply a substrate for C to U editing

RNA Biol. 2017 Sep 2;14(9):1153-1165. doi: 10.1080/15476286.2016.1259783. Epub 2016 Nov 21.


Apolipoprotein B mRNA Editing Catalytic Polypeptide-like 1 or APOBEC1 was discovered in 1993 as the zinc-dependent cytidine deaminase responsible for the production of an in frame stop codon in apoB mRNA through modification of cytidine at nucleotide position 6666 to uridine. At the time of this discovery there was much speculation concerning the mechanism of base modification RNA editing which has been rekindled by the discovery of multiple C to U RNA editing events in the 3' UTRs of mRNAs and the finding that other members of the APOBEC family while able to bind RNA, have the biological function of being DNA mutating enzymes. Current research is addressing the mechanism for these nucleotide modification events that appear not to adhere to the mooring sequence-dependent model for APOBEC1 involving the assembly of a multi protein containing editosome. This review will summarize our current understanding of the structure and function of APOBEC proteins and examine how RNA binding to them may be a regulatory mechanism.

Keywords: ADAR; ADAT; APOBEC; DNA mutation; HIV; RNA editing; RNA modification; adenosine deaminase active on RNA; adenosine deaminase active on tRNA; antiviral; apolipoprotein B editing catalytic subunit; cancer; cytidine deaminase; epigenetics; host defense; human immunodeficiency virus; lncRNA; long noncoding RNA; mRNA; miRNA; microRNA; retrovirus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • APOBEC Deaminases / chemistry
  • APOBEC Deaminases / genetics
  • APOBEC Deaminases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Humans
  • Multigene Family
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Protein Multimerization
  • RNA / chemistry
  • RNA / genetics*
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA Editing
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity


  • RNA
  • APOBEC Deaminases