Exon architecture controls mRNA m6A suppression and gene expression

Science. 2023 Feb 17;379(6633):677-682. doi: 10.1126/science.abj9090. Epub 2023 Jan 27.


N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most abundant messenger RNA (mRNA) modification and plays crucial roles in diverse physiological processes. Using a massively parallel assay for m6A (MPm6A), we discover that m6A specificity is globally regulated by suppressors that prevent m6A deposition in unmethylated transcriptome regions. We identify exon junction complexes (EJCs) as m6A suppressors that protect exon junction-proximal RNA within coding sequences from methylation and regulate mRNA stability through m6A suppression. EJC suppression of m6A underlies multiple global characteristics of mRNA m6A specificity, with the local range of EJC protection sufficient to suppress m6A deposition in average-length internal exons but not in long internal and terminal exons. EJC-suppressed methylation sites colocalize with EJC-suppressed splice sites, which suggests that exon architecture broadly determines local mRNA accessibility to regulatory complexes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Exons*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • RNA Splicing*
  • RNA, Messenger* / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger* / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger
  • N-methyladenosine