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
FEB 07, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Insight Into a Disease-Related Protein in the Brain
FEB 07, 2021
Insight Into a Disease-Related Protein in the Brain
A protein called Gαo is found at high levels in the brain. Mutations in the gene that encodes Gαo cause dysfunctions in ...
FEB 16, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
What Dead Cells Can Tell Us About Our Health
FEB 16, 2021
What Dead Cells Can Tell Us About Our Health
Taking a sample of tissue called a biopsy from an organ suspected of harboring a pathology is a common diagnostic practi ...
MAR 01, 2021
Cardiology
How Heart Problems May Lead to Memory Deficits
MAR 01, 2021
How Heart Problems May Lead to Memory Deficits
Researchers have used a mouse model to show that heart problems can lead to disruptions in gene activity in the memory c ...
MAR 23, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Implementing Illumina NGS is a lot easier than you think.
MAR 23, 2021
Implementing Illumina NGS is a lot easier than you think.
Dr. John-Sebastian Eden is a Virologist at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. His group u ...
MAR 22, 2021
Microbiology
A Cavity-Forming Germ Gets a Little Help From a Gene Cluster
MAR 22, 2021
A Cavity-Forming Germ Gets a Little Help From a Gene Cluster
There are many microbes that live in the human mouth, and while some are harmless, others like Streptococcus mutans are ...
APR 08, 2021
Immunology
It's Not Just Cholesterol That Clogs Arteries
APR 08, 2021
It's Not Just Cholesterol That Clogs Arteries
Researchers have discovered a gene that is directly linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as high b ...
Loading Comments...