Making the Mark: The Role of Adenosine Modifications in the Life Cycle of RNA Viruses

Cell Host Microbe. 2017 Jun 14;21(6):661-669. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.05.008.


Viral epitranscriptomics is a newly emerging field that has identified unique roles for RNA modifications in modulating life cycles of RNA viruses. Despite the observation of a handful of modified viral RNAs five decades ago, very little was known about how these modifications regulate viral life cycles, until recently. Here we review the pro- and anti-viral effects of methyl-6-adenosine in distinct viral life cycles, the role of 2' O-methyl modifications in RNA stability and innate immune sensing, and functions of adenosine to inosine modifications in retroviral life cycles. With roles for over 100 modifications in RNA still unknown, this is a rapidly emerging field that is destined to suggest novel antiviral therapies.

Keywords: 2′-O-methyl; A-to-I editing; Epitranscriptomics; RNA viruses; YTHDF readers; demethylase erasers; flaviviruses; methyl-6-adenonsine; methyltransferase writers; retroviruses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Flavivirus / growth & development
  • Flavivirus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inosine / metabolism
  • Life Cycle Stages*
  • RNA Editing / genetics
  • RNA Viruses / genetics*
  • RNA Viruses / growth & development
  • RNA Viruses / immunology
  • RNA Viruses / physiology
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Retroviridae / growth & development
  • Retroviridae / physiology
  • Virus Replication / genetics*


  • RNA, Viral
  • Inosine
  • Adenosine