The Other Face of an Editor: ADAR1 Functions in Editing-Independent Ways

Bioessays. 2017 Nov;39(11). doi: 10.1002/bies.201700129. Epub 2017 Sep 28.


The RNA editing enzyme ADAR1 seemingly has more functions besides RNA editing. Mouse models lacking ADAR1 and sensors of foreign RNA show that RNA editing by ADAR1 plays a crucial role in the innate immune response. Still, RNA editing alone cannot explain all observed phenotypes. Thus, additional roles for ADAR1 must exist. Binding of ADAR1 to RNA is independent of its RNA editing function. Thus, ADAR1 may compete with other RNA-binding proteins. A very recent manuscript elaborates on this and reports competition of ADAR1 with STAUFEN1, thereby modulating RNA-degradation. ADAR1 is also known to recruit proteins such as DROSHA to nascent transcripts. Still, many open questions remain. For instance, the biological role of the Z-DNA binding domains in ADAR1 is not defined. Moreover, the impact of ADAR1 on the RNA-folding landscape is unclear. In sum, moonlighting functions of ADAR1 may be manifold and have a great impact on the transcriptome.

Keywords: ADAR1; RNA editing; RNA-processing; Staufen-mediated decay; adenosine deaminase; double-stranded RNA; interferon response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Deaminase / immunology
  • Adenosine Deaminase / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Mice
  • RNA Editing
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / immunology
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • ADAR protein, human
  • ADAR1 protein, mouse
  • Adenosine Deaminase