Stem-loop structure preference for site-specific RNA editing by APOBEC3A and APOBEC3G

PeerJ. 2017 Dec 6:5:e4136. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4136. eCollection 2017.


APOBEC3A and APOBEC3G cytidine deaminases inhibit viruses and endogenous retrotransposons. We recently demonstrated the novel cellular C-to-U RNA editing function of APOBEC3A and APOBEC3G. Both enzymes deaminate single-stranded DNAs at multiple TC or CC nucleotide sequences, but edit only a select set of RNAs, often at a single TC or CC nucleotide sequence. To examine the specific site preference for APOBEC3A and -3G-mediated RNA editing, we performed mutagenesis studies of the endogenous cellular RNA substrates of both proteins. We demonstrate that both enzymes prefer RNA substrates that have a predicted stem-loop with the reactive C at the 3'-end of the loop. The size of the loop, the nucleotides immediately 5' to the target cytosine and stability of the stem have a major impact on the level of RNA editing. Our findings show that both sequence and secondary structure are preferred for RNA editing by APOBEC3A and -3G, and suggest an explanation for substrate and site-specificity of RNA editing by APOBEC3A and -3G enzymes.

Keywords: APOBEC3A; APOBEC3G; Cytidine deaminase; RNA editing; RNA secondary structure.