A systematic dissection of determinants and consequences of snoRNA-guided pseudouridylation of human mRNA

Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 May 20;50(9):4900-4916. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkac347.


RNA can be extensively modified post-transcriptionally with >170 covalent modifications, expanding its functional and structural repertoire. Pseudouridine (Ψ), the most abundant modified nucleoside in rRNA and tRNA, has recently been found within mRNA molecules. It remains unclear whether pseudouridylation of mRNA can be snoRNA-guided, bearing important implications for understanding the physiological target spectrum of snoRNAs and for their potential therapeutic exploitation in genetic diseases. Here, using a massively parallel reporter based strategy we simultaneously interrogate Ψ levels across hundreds of synthetic constructs with predesigned complementarity against endogenous snoRNAs. Our results demonstrate that snoRNA-mediated pseudouridylation can occur on mRNA targets. However, this is typically achieved at relatively low efficiencies, and is constrained by mRNA localization, snoRNA expression levels and the length of the snoRNA:mRNA complementarity stretches. We exploited these insights for the design of snoRNAs targeting pseudouridylation at premature termination codons, which was previously shown to suppress translational termination. However, in this and follow-up experiments in human cells we observe no evidence for significant levels of readthrough of pseudouridylated stop codons. Our study enhances our understanding of the scope, 'design rules', constraints and consequences of snoRNA-mediated pseudouridylation.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Pseudouridine* / genetics
  • Pseudouridine* / metabolism
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Messenger* / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar* / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar
  • Pseudouridine