FEB 17, 2016 10:55 AM PST

New RNA Nucleotide Modification Discovered

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
New discoveries have shown that although DNA sticks to “AGCT,” RNA contains modified nucleotides that “increases their vocabulary” past just their four letters, “AGCU.”
 
Before new discoveries of RNA nucleotide modifications were made, the focus of epigenetics studies was DNA and protein modifications. However, the discovery of what scientists are calling an “extra letter” brings RNA to the forefront of epigenetics studies, which they are now calling “epitranscriptomics.”
 


RNA has ten times as many nucleotide modifications as DNA because of its multiple functions with key players like mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA. DNA is considered to have just one main function, keeping the genetic information. This difference in functionality makes the ratio of nucleotide modifications make sense, but scientists believe that newly discovered nucleotide modifications could also be associated with disease states such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.
 
In their new paper published in Nature, scientists Gidi Rechavi, PhD, from the Sheba Medical Center and Chuan He, PhD, from the University of Chicago co-led the study that discovered the newest nucleotide modification: methylation of position 1 of adenosine (m1A) in mRNA. The modification is significantly located at the beginning of protein translation and is strongly associated with protein synthesis.
 
Four years prior to this discovery, Rechavi’s group was the first to find another modification: methylation of position 6 of adenosine (m6A) in mRNA. Like m1A, this modification is specific to unique regions of mRNA. In addition, the modification is believed to respond to environmental stimuli.
 
Around the same time, He’s group identified an enzyme called FTO, for “fat mass and obesity associated,” to be able to remove the m6A marks from mRNA, illustrating that particular modification and potentially other modifications as a reversible process (NIH Genetics Home Reference). In addition to its role in RNA modification, FTO also has a role in both the nervous and cardiovascular systems and a “strong association” with body mass index, obesity risk, and type II diabetes (NIH Genetics Home Reference).
 
He said:

“This discovery further opens a window on a whole new world of biology for us to explore. These modifications have a major impact on almost every biological process.”


Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University
About the Author
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 18, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
A New Kind of Human Cell for Research
SEP 18, 2022
A New Kind of Human Cell for Research
It is extremely challenging to study human development. There are animal models that can tell us how general aspects of ...
OCT 29, 2022
Coronavirus
Extreme Evolution - WHO Now Tracking Over 300 Omicron Subvariants
OCT 29, 2022
Extreme Evolution - WHO Now Tracking Over 300 Omicron Subvariants
As the pandemic has progressed, different variants of SARS-CoV-2 have arisen. Now Omicron subvariants are proliferating, ...
NOV 02, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
A Mildly Pathogenic Mutation, Inherited Over 800 Years, Traces Back to One Person
NOV 02, 2022
A Mildly Pathogenic Mutation, Inherited Over 800 Years, Traces Back to One Person
Scientists have recently identified a genetic mutation that causes epilepsy, and carried by at least 90 people. These mu ...
NOV 09, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Want to Study Copy Number Alterations in Cells? Bring MACHETE
NOV 09, 2022
Want to Study Copy Number Alterations in Cells? Bring MACHETE
Sure, MACHETE is a cool name, but the researchers that developed the technique are hoping people don't focus solely on t ...
NOV 10, 2022
Microbiology
TB Germ That Can Move to the Bones Resembles Ancient Strain Found in Mummies
NOV 10, 2022
TB Germ That Can Move to the Bones Resembles Ancient Strain Found in Mummies
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the pathogenic bacterium that causes TB, which is still a major public health problem in m ...
NOV 29, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
How a Master Regulator May be Working to Protect Cancer
NOV 29, 2022
How a Master Regulator May be Working to Protect Cancer
Scientists have now discovered yet another way that MYC proteins can promote cancer. MYC has been called a master regula ...
Loading Comments...