Role of main RNA modifications in cancer: N6-methyladenosine, 5-methylcytosine, and pseudouridine

Signal Transduct Target Ther. 2022 Apr 28;7(1):142. doi: 10.1038/s41392-022-01003-0.


Cancer is one of the major diseases threatening human life and health worldwide. Epigenetic modification refers to heritable changes in the genetic material without any changes in the nucleic acid sequence and results in heritable phenotypic changes. Epigenetic modifications regulate many biological processes, such as growth, aging, and various diseases, including cancer. With the advancement of next-generation sequencing technology, the role of RNA modifications in cancer progression has become increasingly prominent and is a hot spot in scientific research. This review studied several common RNA modifications, such as N6-methyladenosine, 5-methylcytosine, and pseudouridine. The deposition and roles of these modifications in coding and noncoding RNAs are summarized in detail. Based on the RNA modification background, this review summarized the expression, function, and underlying molecular mechanism of these modifications and their regulators in cancer and further discussed the role of some existing small-molecule inhibitors. More in-depth studies on RNA modification and cancer are needed to broaden the understanding of epigenetics and cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 5-Methylcytosine / metabolism
  • Adenosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Adenosine / genetics
  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Pseudouridine* / genetics
  • Pseudouridine* / metabolism
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated


  • RNA, Untranslated
  • Pseudouridine
  • 5-Methylcytosine
  • N-methyladenosine
  • Adenosine