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1.  Editing of the Serotonin 2C Receptor Pre-mRNA: Effects of the Morris Water Maze 
Gene  2007;391(1-2):186-197.
The pre-mRNA encoding the serotonin 2C receptor, HTR2C (official mouse gene symbol, Htr2c), is subject to adenosine deamination that produces inosine at five sites within the coding region. Combinations of this site-specific A-to-I editing can produce 32 different mRNA sequences encoding 24 different protein isoforms with differing biochemical and pharmacological properties. Studies in humans have reported abnormalities in patterns of HTR2C editing in psychiatric disorders, and studies in rodents show altered patterns of editing in response to drug treatments and stressful situations. To further explore the biological significance of editing of the Htr2c mRNA and its regulation, we have examined patterns of Htr2c editing in C57BL/6J mice after exposure to the hidden platform version of the Morris Water Maze, a test of spatial learning that, in mice, is also associated with stress. In brains of both swimming controls and mice trained to find the platform, subtle time dependent changes in editing patterns are seen as soon as one hour after a probe trial and typically last less than 24 hours. Changes in whole brain with cerebellum removed differ from those seen in isolated hippocampus and cortex. Unexpectedly, in hippocampi from subsets of mice, abnormally low levels of editing were seen that were not correlated with behavior or with editing levels in cortex. These data implicate responses to spatial learning and stress, in addition to stochastic processes, in the generation of subtle changes in editing patterns of Htr2c.
PMCID: PMC2677018  PMID: 17307311
5HT2C receptor; inosine; protein isoforms; primer extension; spatial learning; stress
2.  Pin1 and WWP2 regulate GluR2 Q/R site RNA editing by ADAR2 with opposing effects 
The EMBO Journal  2011;30(20):4211-4222.
Pin1 and WWP2 regulate GluR2 Q/R site RNA editing by ADAR2 with opposing effects
While the essential role of the adenosine deaminase ADAR2 in RNA editing is well established, how it is regulated remains largely unknown. Here, the prolyl isomerase Pin1 and the E3 ubiquitin ligase WWP2 are shown to play a role in regulating ADAR2 localisation and stability.
ADAR2 catalyses the deamination of adenosine to inosine at the GluR2 Q/R site in the pre-mRNA encoding the critical subunit of AMPA receptors. Among ADAR2 substrates this is the vital one as editing at this position is indispensable for normal brain function. However, the regulation of ADAR2 post-translationally remains to be elucidated. We demonstrate that the phosphorylation-dependent prolyl-isomerase Pin1 interacts with ADAR2 and is a positive regulator required for the nuclear localization and stability of ADAR2. Pin1−/− mouse embryonic fibroblasts show mislocalization of ADAR2 in the cytoplasm and reduced editing at the GluR2 Q/R and R/G sites. The E3 ubiquitin ligase WWP2 plays a negative role by binding to ADAR2 and catalysing its ubiquitination and subsequent degradation. Therefore, ADAR2 protein levels and catalytic activity are coordinately regulated in a positive manner by Pin1 and negatively by WWP2 and this may have downstream effects on the function of GluR2. Pin1 and WWP2 also regulate the large subunit of RNA Pol II, so these proteins may also coordinately regulate other key cellular proteins.
PMCID: PMC3199391  PMID: 21847096
ADAR2; GluR2; Pin1; RNA editing; WWP2
3.  Conserved microRNA editing in mammalian evolution, development and disease 
Genome Biology  2014;15(6):R83.
Mammalian microRNAs (miRNAs) are sometimes subject to adenosine-to-inosine RNA editing, which can lead to dramatic changes in miRNA target specificity or expression levels. However, although a few miRNAs are known to be edited at identical positions in human and mouse, the evolution of miRNA editing has not been investigated in detail. In this study, we identify conserved miRNA editing events in a range of mammalian and non-mammalian species.
We demonstrate deep conservation of several site-specific miRNA editing events, including two that date back to the common ancestor of mammals and bony fishes some 450 million years ago. We also find evidence of a recent expansion of an edited miRNA family in placental mammals and show that editing of these miRNAs is associated with changes in target mRNA expression during primate development and aging. While global patterns of miRNA editing tend to be conserved across species, we observe substantial variation in editing frequencies depending on tissue, age and disease state: editing is more frequent in neural tissues compared to heart, kidney and testis; in older compared to younger individuals; and in samples from healthy tissues compared to tumors, which together suggests that miRNA editing might be associated with a reduced rate of cell proliferation.
Our results show that site-specific miRNA editing is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism, which increases the functional diversity of mammalian miRNA transcriptomes. Furthermore, we find that although miRNA editing is rare compared to editing of long RNAs, miRNAs are greatly overrepresented among conserved editing targets.
PMCID: PMC4197820  PMID: 24964909
4.  Adenosine-to-inosine RNA editing and human disease 
Genome Medicine  2013;5(11):105.
A-to-I RNA editing is a post-transcriptional modification that converts adenosines to inosines in both coding and noncoding RNA transcripts. It is catalyzed by ADAR (adenosine deaminase acting on RNA) enzymes, which exist throughout the body but are most prevalent in the central nervous system. Inosines exhibit properties that are most similar to those of guanosines. As a result, ADAR-mediated editing can post-transcriptionally alter codons, introduce or remove splice sites, or affect the base pairing of the RNA molecule with itself or with other RNAs. A-to-I editing is a mechanism that regulates and diversifies the transcriptome, but the full biological significance of ADARs is not understood. ADARs are highly conserved across vertebrates and are essential for normal development in mammals. Aberrant ADAR activity has been associated with a wide range of human diseases, including cancer, neurological disorders, metabolic diseases, viral infections and autoimmune disorders. ADARs have been shown to contribute to disease pathologies by editing of glutamate receptors, editing of serotonin receptors, mutations in ADAR genes, and by other mechanisms, including recently identified regulatory roles in microRNA processing. Advances in research into many of these diseases may depend on an improved understanding of the biological functions of ADARs. Here, we review recent studies investigating connections between ADAR-mediated RNA editing and human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3979043  PMID: 24289319
5.  Mammalian conserved ADAR targets comprise only a small fragment of the human editosome 
Genome Biology  2014;15(1):R5.
ADAR proteins are among the most extensively studied RNA binding proteins. They bind to their target and deaminate specific adenosines to inosines. ADAR activity is essential, and the editing of a subset of their targets is critical for viability. Recently, a huge number of novel ADAR targets were detected by analyzing next generation sequencing data. Most of these novel editing sites are located in lineage-specific genomic repeats, probably a result of overactivity of editing enzymes, thus masking the functional sites. In this study we aim to identify the set of mammalian conserved ADAR targets.
We used RNA sequencing data from human, mouse, rat, cow, opossum, and platypus to define the conserved mammalian set of ADAR targets. We found that the conserved mammalian editing sites are surprisingly small in number and have unique characteristics that distinguish them from non-conserved ones. The sites that constitute the set have a distinct genomic distribution, tend to be located in genes encoding neurotransmitter receptors or other synapse related proteins, and have higher editing and expression levels. We also found a high consistency of editing levels of this set within mice strains and between human and mouse. Tight regulation of editing in these sites across strains and species implies their functional importance.
Despite the discovery of numerous editing targets, only a small number of them are conserved within mammalian evolution. These sites are extremely highly conserved and exhibit unique features, such as tight regulation, and probably play a pivotal role in mammalian biology.
PMCID: PMC4053846  PMID: 24393560
6.  Identification of Widespread Ultra-Edited Human RNAs 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002317.
Adenosine-to-inosine modification of RNA molecules (A-to-I RNA editing) is an important mechanism that increases transciptome diversity. It occurs when a genomically encoded adenosine (A) is converted to an inosine (I) by ADAR proteins. Sequencing reactions read inosine as guanosine (G); therefore, current methods to detect A-to-I editing sites align RNA sequences to their corresponding DNA regions and identify A-to-G mismatches. However, such methods perform poorly on RNAs that underwent extensive editing (“ultra”-editing), as the large number of mismatches obscures the genomic origin of these RNAs. Therefore, only a few anecdotal ultra-edited RNAs have been discovered so far. Here we introduce and apply a novel computational method to identify ultra-edited RNAs. We detected 760 ESTs containing 15,646 editing sites (more than 20 sites per EST, on average), of which 13,668 are novel. Ultra-edited RNAs exhibit the known sequence motif of ADARs and tend to localize in sense strand Alu elements. Compared to sites of mild editing, ultra-editing occurs primarily in Alu-rich regions, where potential base pairing with neighboring, inverted Alus creates particularly long double-stranded RNA structures. Ultra-editing sites are underrepresented in old Alu subfamilies, tend to be non-conserved, and avoid exons, suggesting that ultra-editing is usually deleterious. A possible biological function of ultra-editing could be mediated by non-canonical splicing and cleavage of the RNA near the editing sites.
Author Summary
The traditional view of mRNA as a pure intermediate between DNA and protein has changed in the last decades since the discovery of numerous RNA processing pathways. A frequent RNA modification is A-to-I editing, or the conversion of adenosine (A) to inosine (I). Since inosine is read as a guanosine (G), A-to-I editing leads to changes in the RNA sequence that can alter the function of its encoded protein. In recent years, tens of thousands of human A-to-I editing sites were discovered by computationally comparing RNA sequences to the human genome and searching for A-to-G mismatches. However, previous screens usually ignored RNA sequences that were edited to extreme, because the large number of A-to-G mismatches carried by these RNAs obscured their genomic origin. We developed a new computational framework to detect extreme A-to-I editing, or ultra-editing, based on masking potential editing sites before the alignment to the genome. Our method detected about 14,000 editing sites, with each edited molecule affected, on average, in more than 20 nucleotides. We demonstrated that the likely reason for the ultra-editing of those sequences is their potential to fold back into a particularly long double-stranded structure, which is the preferred target of the editing enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3197674  PMID: 22028664
7.  Dysregulated A to I RNA editing and non-coding RNAs in neurodegeneration 
Frontiers in Genetics  2013;3:326.
RNA editing is an alteration in the primary nucleotide sequences resulting from a chemical change in the base. RNA editing is observed in eukaryotic mRNA, transfer RNA, ribosomal RNA, and non-coding RNAs (ncRNA). The most common RNA editing in the mammalian central nervous system is a base modification, where the adenosine residue is base-modified to inosine (A to I). Studies from ADAR (adenosine deaminase that act on RNA) mutants in Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, and mice clearly show that the RNA editing process is an absolute requirement for nervous system homeostasis and normal physiology of the animal. Understanding the mechanisms of editing and findings of edited substrates has provided a better knowledge of the phenotype due to defective and hyperactive RNA editing. A to I RNA editing is catalyzed by a family of enzymes knows as ADARs. ADARs modify duplex RNAs and editing of duplex RNAs formed by ncRNAs can impact RNA functions, leading to an altered regulatory gene network. Such altered functions by A to I editing is observed in mRNAs, microRNAs (miRNA) but other editing of small and long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) has yet to be identified. Thus, ncRNA and RNA editing may provide key links between neural development, nervous system function, and neurological diseases. This review includes a summary of seminal findings regarding the impact of ncRNAs on biological and pathological processes, which may be further modified by RNA editing. NcRNAs are non-translated RNAs classified by size and function. Known ncRNAs like miRNAs, smallRNAs (smRNAs), PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), and lncRNAs play important roles in splicing, DNA methylation, imprinting, and RNA interference. Of note, miRNAs are involved in development and function of the nervous system that is heavily dependent on both RNA editing and the intricate spatiotemporal expression of ncRNAs. This review focuses on the impact of dysregulated A to I editing and ncRNAs in neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC3551214  PMID: 23346095
RNA editing; ADARs; non-coding RNAs; microRNAs; snoRNAs; long non-coding RNA
8.  ADAR2 A→I editing: site selectivity and editing efficiency are separate events 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(16):4874-4881.
ADAR enzymes, adenosine deaminases that act on RNA, form a family of RNA editing enzymes that convert adenosine to inosine within RNA that is completely or largely double-stranded. Site-selective A→I editing has been detected at specific sites within a few structured pre-mRNAs of metazoans. We have analyzed the editing selectivity of ADAR enzymes and have chosen to study the naturally edited R/G site in the pre-mRNA of the glutamate receptor subunit B (GluR-B). A comparison of editing by ADAR1 and ADAR2 revealed differences in the specificity of editing. Our results show that ADAR2 selectively edits the R/G site, while ADAR1 edits more promiscuously at several other adenosines in the double-stranded stem. To further understand the mechanism of selective ADAR2 editing we have investigated the importance of internal loops in the RNA substrate. We have found that the immediate structure surrounding the editing site is important. A purine opposite to the editing site has a negative effect on both selectivity and efficiency of editing. More distant internal loops in the substrate were found to have minor effects on site selectivity, while efficiency of editing was found to be influenced. Finally, changes in the RNA structure that affected editing did not alter the binding abilities of ADAR2. Overall these findings suggest that binding and catalysis are independent events.
PMCID: PMC169957  PMID: 12907730
9.  The conserved protein kinase-A target motif in synapsin of Drosophila is effectively modified by pre-mRNA editing 
BMC Neuroscience  2006;7:76.
Synapsins are abundant synaptic vesicle associated phosphoproteins that are involved in the fine regulation of neurotransmitter release. The Drosophila member of this protein family contains three conserved domains (A, C, and E) and is expressed in most or all synaptic terminals. Similar to mouse mutants, synapsin knock-out flies show no obvious structural defects but are disturbed in complex behaviour, notably learning and memory.
We demonstrate that the N-terminal phosphorylation consensus motif RRxS that is conserved in all synapsins investigated so far, is modified in Drosophila by pre-mRNA editing. In mammals this motif represents the target site P1 of protein kinase A (PKA) and calcium/calmodulin dependent protein kinase I/IV. The result of this editing, by which RRFS is modified to RGFS, can be observed in cDNAs of larvae and adults and in both isolated heads and bodies. It is also seen in several newly collected wild-type strains and thus does not represent an adaptation to laboratory culture conditions. A likely editing site complementary sequence is found in a downstream intron indicating that the synapsin pre-mRNA can form a double-stranded RNA structure that is required for editing by the adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) enzyme. A deletion in the Drosophila Adar gene generated by transposon remobilization prevents this modification, proving that the ADAR enzyme is responsible for the pre-mRNA editing described here. We also provide evidence for a likely function of synapsin editing in Drosophila. The N-terminal synapsin undeca-peptide containing the genomic motif (RRFS) represents an excellent substrate for in-vitro phosphorylation by bovine PKA while the edited peptide (RGFS) is not significantly phosphorylated. Thus pre-mRNA editing by ADAR could modulate the function of ubiquitously expressed synapsin in a cell-specific manner during development and adulthood.
Similar to several other neuronal proteins of Drosophila, synapsin is modified by ADAR-mediated recoding at the pre-mRNA level. This editing likely reduces or abolishes synapsin phosphorylation by PKA. Since synapsin in Drosophila is required for various forms of behavioural plasticity, it will be fascinating to investigate the effect of this recoding on learning and memory.
PMCID: PMC1660579  PMID: 17105647
10.  Spatio-temporal regulation of ADAR editing during development in porcine neural tissues 
RNA Biology  2012;9(8):1054-1065.
Editing by ADAR enzymes is essential for mammalian life. Still, knowledge of the spatio-temporal editing patterns in mammals is limited. By use of 454 amplicon sequencing we examined the editing status of 12 regionally extracted mRNAs from porcine developing brain encompassing a total of 64 putative ADAR editing sites. In total 24 brain tissues, dissected from up to five regions from embryonic gestation day 23, 42, 60, 80, 100 and 115, were examined for editing.
Generally, editing increased during embryonic development concomitantly with an increase in ADAR2 mRNA level. Notably, the Gria2 (GluR-B) Q/R site, reported to be ~100% edited in previous studies, is only 54% edited at embryonic day 23. Transcripts with multiple editing sites in close proximity to each other exhibit coupled editing and an extraordinary incidence of long-range coupling of editing events more than 32 kb apart is observed for the kainate glutamate receptor 2 transcript, Grik2. Our study reveals complex spatio-temporal ADAR editing patterns of coordinated editing events that may play important roles in the development of the mammalian brain.
PMCID: PMC3551860  PMID: 22858680
5-HT2C receptor; ADAR; ADAR2; Blcap; GluR-B; Gria2; Htr2c; Pig; RNA editing
11.  Alu elements shape the primate transcriptome by cis-regulation of RNA editing 
Genome Biology  2014;15(2):R28.
RNA editing by adenosine to inosine deamination is a widespread phenomenon, particularly frequent in the human transcriptome, largely due to the presence of inverted Alu repeats and their ability to form double-stranded structures – a requisite for ADAR editing. While several hundred thousand editing sites have been identified within these primate-specific repeats, the function of Alu-editing has yet to be elucidated.
We show that inverted Alu repeats, expressed in the primate brain, can induce site-selective editing in cis on sites located several hundred nucleotides from the Alu elements. Furthermore, a computational analysis, based on available RNA-seq data, finds that site-selective editing occurs significantly closer to edited Alu elements than expected. These targets are poorly edited upon deletion of the editing inducers, as well as in homologous transcripts from organisms lacking Alus. Sequences surrounding sites near edited Alus in UTRs, have been subjected to a lesser extent of evolutionary selection than those far from edited Alus, indicating that their editing generally depends on cis-acting Alus. Interestingly, we find an enrichment of primate-specific editing within encoded sequence or the UTRs of zinc finger-containing transcription factors.
We propose a model whereby primate-specific editing is induced by adjacent Alu elements that function as recruitment elements for the ADAR editing enzymes. The enrichment of site-selective editing with potentially functional consequences on the expression of transcription factors indicates that editing contributes more profoundly to the transcriptomic regulation and repertoire in primates than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC4053975  PMID: 24485196
12.  RNA Editome in Rhesus Macaque Shaped by Purifying Selection 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(4):e1004274.
Understanding of the RNA editing process has been broadened considerably by the next generation sequencing technology; however, several issues regarding this regulatory step remain unresolved – the strategies to accurately delineate the editome, the mechanism by which its profile is maintained, and its evolutionary and functional relevance. Here we report an accurate and quantitative profile of the RNA editome for rhesus macaque, a close relative of human. By combining genome and transcriptome sequencing of multiple tissues from the same animal, we identified 31,250 editing sites, of which 99.8% are A-to-G transitions. We verified 96.6% of editing sites in coding regions and 97.5% of randomly selected sites in non-coding regions, as well as the corresponding levels of editing by multiple independent means, demonstrating the feasibility of our experimental paradigm. Several lines of evidence supported the notion that the adenosine deamination is associated with the macaque editome – A-to-G editing sites were flanked by sequences with the attributes of ADAR substrates, and both the sequence context and the expression profile of ADARs are relevant factors in determining the quantitative variance of RNA editing across different sites and tissue types. In support of the functional relevance of some of these editing sites, substitution valley of decreased divergence was detected around the editing site, suggesting the evolutionary constraint in maintaining some of these editing substrates with their double-stranded structure. These findings thus complement the “continuous probing” model that postulates tinkering-based origination of a small proportion of functional editing sites. In conclusion, the macaque editome reported here highlights RNA editing as a widespread functional regulation in primate evolution, and provides an informative framework for further understanding RNA editing in human.
Author Summary
RNA editing is a co-transcriptional process that introduces differences between RNA and its corresponding DNA sequence. Currently, the next generation sequencing have allowed study of the editome in a comprehensive and efficient manner. However, fundamental issues involving accurate mapping of the editome as well as its regulation and functional outcome remain unresolved. To further unveil the underlying mechanisms from the evolutionary perspective, we report here the editome profile in rhesus macaque, one of our closest evolutionary relatives. We identified a list of 31,250 RNA-editing sites and deciphered an accurate and informative editome across multiple tissues and animals. We found that the adenosine deamination is associated with the macaque editome, in that both the sequence context and the expression profile of ADARs are relevant factors in determining the quantitative variance of RNA editing across different sites and tissue types. Importantly, some of these RNA-editing events represent functional regulation, rather than neutral signals, as suggested by substitution valley of decreased divergence detected around the editing sites, an indication of selective constraint in maintaining some of these editing substrates with their double-stranded structure. The macaque editome thus provides an informative evolutionary context for an in-depth understanding of RNA editing regulation.
PMCID: PMC3983040  PMID: 24722121
13.  ADAR2-mediated editing of RNA substrates in the nucleolus is inhibited by C/D small nucleolar RNAs 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;169(5):745-753.
Posttranscriptional, site-specific adenosine to inosine (A-to-I) base conversions, designated as RNA editing, play significant roles in generating diversity of gene expression. However, little is known about how and in which cellular compartments RNA editing is controlled. Interestingly, the two enzymes that catalyze RNA editing, adenosine deaminases that act on RNA (ADAR) 1 and 2, have recently been demonstrated to dynamically associate with the nucleolus. Moreover, we have identified a brain-specific small RNA, termed MBII-52, which was predicted to function as a nucleolar C/D RNA, thereby targeting an A-to-I editing site (C-site) within the 5-HT2C serotonin receptor pre-mRNA for 2′-O-methylation. Through the subcellular targeting of minigenes that contain natural editing sites, we show that ADAR2- but not ADAR1-mediated RNA editing occurs in the nucleolus. We also demonstrate that MBII-52 forms a bona fide small nucleolar ribonucleoprotein particle that specifically decreases the efficiency of RNA editing by ADAR2 at the targeted C-site. Our data are consistent with a model in which C/D small nucleolar RNA might play a role in the regulation of RNA editing.
PMCID: PMC2171610  PMID: 15939761
14.  Dynamic response of RNA editing to temperature in Drosophila 
BMC Biology  2015;13:1.
Adenosine-to-inosine RNA editing is a highly conserved process that post-transcriptionally modifies mRNA, generating proteomic diversity, particularly within the nervous system of metazoans. Transcripts encoding proteins involved in neurotransmission predominate as targets of such modifications. Previous reports suggest that RNA editing is responsive to environmental inputs in the form of temperature alterations. However, the molecular determinants underlying temperature-dependent RNA editing responses are not well understood.
Using the poikilotherm Drosophila, we show that acute temperature alterations within a normal physiological range result in substantial changes in RNA editing levels. Our examination of particular sites reveals diversity in the patterns with which editing responds to temperature, and these patterns are conserved across five species of Drosophilidae representing over 10 million years of divergence. In addition, we show that expression of the editing enzyme, ADAR (adenosine deaminase acting on RNA), is dramatically decreased at elevated temperatures, partially, but not fully, explaining some target responses to temperature. Interestingly, this reduction in editing enzyme levels at elevated temperature is only partially reversed by a return to lower temperatures. Lastly, we show that engineered structural variants of the most temperature-sensitive editing site, in a sodium channel transcript, perturb thermal responsiveness in RNA editing profile for a particular RNA structure.
Our results suggest that the RNA editing process responds to temperature alterations via two distinct molecular mechanisms: through intrinsic thermo-sensitivity of the RNA structures that direct editing, and due to temperature sensitive expression or stability of the RNA editing enzyme. Environmental cues, in this case temperature, rapidly reprogram the Drosophila transcriptome through RNA editing, presumably resulting in altered proteomic ratios of edited and unedited proteins.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12915-014-0111-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4299485  PMID: 25555396
ADAR; RNA editing; RNA thermometers; Temperature; Editosome; Poikilotherm; Inosine; A-to-I editing
15.  Prediction of constitutive A-to-I editing sites from human transcriptomes in the absence of genomic sequences 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:206.
Adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing is recognized as a cellular mechanism for generating both RNA and protein diversity. Inosine base pairs with cytidine during reverse transcription and therefore appears as guanosine during sequencing of cDNA. Current approaches of RNA editing identification largely depend on the comparison between transcriptomes and genomic DNA (gDNA) sequencing datasets from the same individuals, and it has been challenging to identify editing candidates from transcriptomes in the absence of gDNA information.
We have developed a new strategy to accurately predict constitutive RNA editing sites from publicly available human RNA-seq datasets in the absence of relevant genomic sequences. Our approach establishes new parameters to increase the ability to map mismatches and to minimize sequencing/mapping errors and unreported genome variations. We identified 695 novel constitutive A-to-I editing sites that appear in clusters (named “editing boxes”) in multiple samples and which exhibit spatial and dynamic regulation across human tissues. Some of these editing boxes are enriched in non-repetitive regions lacking inverted repeat structures and contain an extremely high conversion frequency of As to Is. We validated a number of editing boxes in multiple human cell lines and confirmed that ADAR1 is responsible for the observed promiscuous editing events in non-repetitive regions, further expanding our knowledge of the catalytic substrate of A-to-I RNA editing by ADAR enzymes.
The approach we present here provides a novel way of identifying A-to-I RNA editing events by analyzing only RNA-seq datasets. This method has allowed us to gain new insights into RNA editing and should also aid in the identification of more constitutive A-to-I editing sites from additional transcriptomes.
PMCID: PMC3637798  PMID: 23537002
RNA-seq; RNA editing; Potential SNP score; Constitutive editing; Editing box
16.  A structural determinant required for RNA editing 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(13):5669-5681.
RNA editing by adenosine deaminases acting on RNAs (ADARs) can be both specific and non-specific, depending on the substrate. Specific editing of particular adenosines may depend on the overall sequence and structural context. However, the detailed mechanisms underlying these preferences are not fully understood. Here, we show that duplex structures mimicking an editing site in the Gabra3 pre-mRNA unexpectedly fail to support RNA editing at the Gabra3 I/M site, although phylogenetic analysis suggest an evolutionarily conserved duplex structure essential for efficient RNA editing. These unusual results led us to revisit the structural requirement for this editing by mutagenesis analysis. In vivo nuclear injection experiments of mutated editing substrates demonstrate that a non-conserved structure is a determinant for editing. This structure contains bulges either on the same or the strand opposing the edited adenosine. The position of these bulges and the distance to the edited base regulate editing. Moreover, elevated folding temperature can lead to a switch in RNA editing suggesting an RNA structural change. Our results indicate the importance of RNA tertiary structure in determining RNA editing.
PMCID: PMC3141254  PMID: 21427087
17.  Age-related gene-specific changes of A-to-I mRNA editing in the human brain 
A-to-I editing is an adenosine-to-inosine modification of mRNA particularly widespread in the human brain, where it affects thousands of genes. A growing body of evidence suggests that A-to-I RNA editing is necessary for normal development and maintenance in mammals and that its deficiencies contribute to a number of pathological states. In this study, we examined whether mRNA editing levels of two mRNA species, CYFIP2 and GABRA3, change with aging. CYFIP2 has been implicated in synaptic maintenance, while GABRA3 is a GABA receptor subunit, a part of the major inhibitory neurotransmitter system in the CNS. The levels of mRNA editing were assessed in cortex samples of 20 subjects 22 to 102 years old. The data show an age-dependent statistically significant decrease in editing in CYFIP2. GABRA3 editing remained much more stable with age, implying that age-related decline of RNA editing is gene-specific. This is the first report of age-dependent decline in A-to-I editing. Further examination of these and other vulnerable genes may reveal specific RNA editing mechanisms that contribute to the aging phenotype.
PMCID: PMC2915444  PMID: 20538013
Aging; RNA editing; human brain
18.  RNA-Seq Analysis Identifies A Novel Set of Editing Substrates for Human ADAR2 Present in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Biochemistry  2013;52(45):10.1021/bi4006539.
ADAR2 is a member of a family of RNA editing enzymes found in metazoa that bind double helical RNAs and deaminate select adenosines. We find that when human ADAR2 is overexpressed in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae it substantially reduces the rate of cell growth. This effect is dependent on the deaminase activity of the enzyme, suggesting yeast transcripts are edited by ADAR2. Characterization of this novel set of RNA substrates provided a unique opportunity to gain insight into ADAR2’s site selectivity. We used RNA-Seq. to identify transcripts present in S. cerevisiae subject to ADAR2-catalyzed editing. From this analysis, we identified 17 adenosines present in yeast RNAs that satisfied our criteria for candidate editing sites. Substrates identified include both coding and noncoding RNAs. Subsequent Sanger sequencing of RT-PCR products from yeast total RNA confirmed efficient editing at a subset of the candidate sites including BDF2 mRNA, RL28 intron RNA, HAC1 3′UTR RNA, 25S rRNA, U1 snRNA and U2 snRNA. Two adenosines within the U1 snRNA sequence not identified as substrates during the original RNA-Seq. screen were shown to be deaminated by ADAR2 during the follow-up analysis. In addition, examination of the RNA sequence surrounding each edited adenosine in this novel group of ADAR2 sites revealed a previously unrecognized sequence preference. Remarkably, rapid deamination at one of these sites (BDF2 mRNA) does not require ADAR2’s dsRNA-binding domains (dsRBDs). Human glioma-associated oncogene 1 (GLI1) mRNA is a known ADAR2 substrate with similar flanking sequence and secondary structure to the yeast BDF2 site discovered here. As observed with the BDF2 site, rapid deamination at the GLI1 site does not require ADAR2’s dsRBDs.
PMCID: PMC3856204  PMID: 24124932
19.  Novel Exon of Mammalian ADAR2 Extends Open Reading Frame 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(1):e4225.
The post-transcriptional processing of pre-mRNAs by RNA editing contributes significantly to the complexity of the mammalian transcriptome. RNA editing by site-selective A-to-I modification also regulates protein function through recoding of genomically specified sequences. The adenosine deaminase ADAR2 is the main enzyme responsible for recoding editing and loss of ADAR2 function in mice leads to a phenotype of epilepsy and premature death. Although A-to-I RNA editing is known to be subject to developmental and cell-type specific regulation, there is little knowledge regarding the mechanisms that regulate RNA editing in vivo. Therefore, the characterization of ADAR expression and identification of alternative ADAR variants is an important prerequisite for understanding the mechanisms for regulation of RNA editing and the causes for deregulation in disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we present evidence for a new ADAR2 splice variant that extends the open reading frame of ADAR2 by 49 amino acids through the utilization of an exon located 18 kilobases upstream of the previously annotated first coding exon and driven by a candidate alternative promoter. Interestingly, the 49 amino acid extension harbors a sequence motif that is closely related to the R-domain of ADAR3 where it has been shown to function as a basic, single-stranded RNA binding domain. Quantitative expression analysis shows that expression of the novel ADAR2 splice variant is tissue specific being highest in the cerebellum.
The strong sequence conservation of the ADAR2 R-domain between human, mouse and rat ADAR2 genes suggests a conserved function for this isoform of the RNA editing enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2626628  PMID: 19156214
20.  Alu Sequences in Undifferentiated Human Embryonic Stem Cells Display High Levels of A-to-I RNA Editing 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11173.
Adenosine to Inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing is a site-specific modification of RNA transcripts, catalyzed by members of the ADAR (Adenosine Deaminase Acting on RNA) protein family. RNA editing occurs in human RNA in thousands of different sites. Some of the sites are located in protein-coding regions but the majority is found in non-coding regions, such as 3′UTRs, 5′UTRs and introns - mainly in Alu elements. While editing is found in all tissues, the highest levels of editing are found in the brain. It was shown that editing levels within protein-coding regions are increased during embryogenesis and after birth and that RNA editing is crucial for organism viability as well as for normal development. In this study we characterized the A-to-I RNA editing phenomenon during neuronal and spontaneous differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). We identified high editing levels of Alu repetitive elements in hESCs and demonstrated a global decrease in editing levels of non-coding Alu sites when hESCs are differentiating, particularly into the neural lineage. Using RNA interference, we showed that the elevated editing levels of Alu elements in undifferentiated hESCs are highly dependent on ADAR1. DNA microarray analysis showed that ADAR1 knockdown has a global effect on gene expression in hESCs and leads to a significant increase in RNA expression levels of genes involved in differentiation and development processes, including neurogenesis. Taken together, we speculate that A-to-I editing of Alu sequences plays a role in the regulation of hESC early differentiation decisions.
PMCID: PMC2888580  PMID: 20574523
21.  Hypoxia-inducible C-to-U coding RNA editing downregulates SDHB in monocytes 
PeerJ  2013;1:e152.
Background. RNA editing is a post-transcriptional regulatory mechanism that can alter the coding sequences of certain genes in response to physiological demands. We previously identified C-to-U RNA editing (C136U, R46X) which inactivates a small fraction of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH; mitochondrial complex II) subunit B gene (SDHB) mRNAs in normal steady-state peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). SDH is a heterotetrameric tumor suppressor complex which when mutated causes paraganglioma tumors that are characterized by constitutive activation of hypoxia inducible pathways. Here, we studied regulation, extent and cell type origin of SDHB RNA editing.
Methods. We used short-term cultured PBMCs obtained from random healthy platelet donors, performed monocyte enrichment by cold aggregation, employed a novel allele-specific quantitative PCR method, flow cytometry, immunologic cell separation, gene expression microarray, database analysis and high-throughput RNA sequencing.
Results. While the editing rate is low in uncultured monocyte-enriched PBMCs (average rate 2.0%, range 0.4%–6.3%, n = 42), it is markedly upregulated upon exposure to 1% oxygen tension (average rate 18.2%, range 2.8%–49.4%, n = 14) and during normoxic macrophage differentiation in the presence of serum (average rate 10.1%, range 2.7%–18.8%, n = 17). The normoxic induction of SDHB RNA editing was associated with the development of dense adherent aggregates of monocytes in culture. CD14-positive monocyte isolation increased the percentages of C136U transcripts by 1.25-fold in normoxic cultures (n = 5) and 1.68-fold in hypoxic cultures (n = 4). CD14-negative lymphocytes showed no evidence of SDHB editing. The SDHB genomic DNA remained wild-type during increased RNA editing. Microarray analysis showed expression changes in wound healing and immune response pathway genes as the editing rate increased in normoxic cultures. High-throughput sequencing of SDHB and SDHD transcripts confirmed the induction of C136U RNA editing in normoxic cultures but showed no additional verifiable coding edits. Analysis of SDHB RNA sequence data from 16 normal human tissues from the Illumina Body Map and from 45 samples representing 23 different cell types from the ENCODE projects confirmed the occurrence of site-specific C136U editing in whole blood (1.7%) and two primary CD14+ monocyte samples (1.9% and 2.6%). In contrast, the other cell types showed an average of 0.2% and 0.1% C136U editing rates in the two databases, respectively.
Conclusions. These findings demonstrate that C-to-U coding RNA editing of certain genes is dynamically induced by physiologically relevant environmental factors and suggest that epigenetic downregulation of SDHB by site-specific RNA editing plays a role in hypoxia adaptation in monocytes.
PMCID: PMC3775634  PMID: 24058882
Epigenetic; Environment; RNA editing; Cytidine deaminase; Monocyte; Macrophage; Mitochondrion; Hypoxia; Complex II
22.  A Transition State Analogue for an RNA-Editing Reaction 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2004;126(36):11213-11219.
Deamination at C6 of adenosine in RNA catalyzed by the ADAR enzymes generates inosine at the corresponding position. Because inosine is decoded as guanosine during translation, this modification can lead to codon changes in messenger RNA. Hydration of 8-azanebularine across the C6–N1 double bond generates an excellent mimic of the transition state proposed for the hydrolytic deamination reaction catalyzed by ADARs. Here, we report the synthesis of a phosphoramidite of 8-azanebularine and its use in the preparation of RNAs mimicking the secondary structure found at a known editing site in the glutamate receptor B subunit pre-mRNA. The binding properties of analogue-containing RNAs indicate that a tight binding ligand for an ADAR can be generated by incorporation of 8-azanebularine. The observed high-affinity binding is dependent on a functional active site, the presence of one, but not the other, of ADAR2’s two double-stranded RNA-binding motifs (dsRBMs), and the correct placement of the nucleoside analogue into the sequence/structural context of a known editing site. These results advance our understanding of substrate recognition during ADAR-catalyzed RNA editing and are important for structural studies of ADAR· RNA complexes.
PMCID: PMC1823040  PMID: 15355102
23.  Editing of Serotonin 2C Receptor mRNA in the Prefrontal Cortex Characterizes High Novelty Locomotor Response Behavioral Trait 
Serotonin 2C receptor (5-HT2CR) exerts a major inhibitory influence on dopamine (DA) neurotransmission within the mesocorticolimbic DA pathway that is implicated in drug reward and goal-directed behaviors. 5-HT2CR pre-mRNA undergoes adenosine-to-inosine editing generating numerous receptor isoforms in brain. Because editing influences 5-HT2CR efficacy, individual differences in editing might influence dopaminergic function and, thereby, contribute to inter-individual vulnerability to drug addiction.
Liability to drug-related behaviors in rats can be predicted by the level of motor activity in response to a novel environment. Rats with a high locomotor response (high responders; HRs) exhibit enhanced acquisition and maintenance of drug self-administration compared to rats with a low response (low responders; LRs). Here we examined 5-HT2CR mRNA editing and expression in HR and LR phenotypes in order to investigate the relationship between 5-HT2CR function and behavioral traits relevant to drug addiction vulnerability. Three regions of the mesocorticolimbic circuitry (ventral tegmental area (VTA), nucleus accumbens (NuAc) shell, and medial prefrontal cortex (PFC)) were examined.
5-HT2CR mRNA expression and editing was significantly higher in NuAc shell compared to both PFC and VTA, implying significant differences in function (including constitutive activity) among 5-HT2CR neuronal populations within the circuitry. The regional differences in editing could, at least in part, arise from the variations in expression levels of the editing enzyme, ADAR2, and/or from the variations in the ADAR2/ADAR1 ratio observed in the study. No differences in the 5-HT2CR expression were detected between the behavioral phenotypes. However, editing was higher in the PFC of HRs vs. LRs, implicating this region in the pathophysiology of drug abuse liability.
PMCID: PMC2735076  PMID: 19494808
serotonin 2C receptor; mRNA editing; drug addiction; rat; high and low responders; prefrontal cortex
24.  The ADAR RNA editing enzyme controls neuronal excitability in Drosophila melanogaster 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(2):1139-1151.
RNA editing by deamination of specific adenosine bases to inosines during pre-mRNA processing generates edited isoforms of proteins. Recoding RNA editing is more widespread in Drosophila than in vertebrates. Editing levels rise strongly at metamorphosis, and Adar5G1 null mutant flies lack editing events in hundreds of CNS transcripts; mutant flies have reduced viability, severely defective locomotion and age-dependent neurodegeneration. On the other hand, overexpressing an adult dADAR isoform with high enzymatic activity ubiquitously during larval and pupal stages is lethal. Advantage was taken of this to screen for genetic modifiers; Adar overexpression lethality is rescued by reduced dosage of the Rdl (Resistant to dieldrin), gene encoding a subunit of inhibitory GABA receptors. Reduced dosage of the Gad1 gene encoding the GABA synthetase also rescues Adar overexpression lethality. Drosophila Adar5G1 mutant phenotypes are ameliorated by feeding GABA modulators. We demonstrate that neuronal excitability is linked to dADAR expression levels in individual neurons; Adar-overexpressing larval motor neurons show reduced excitability whereas Adar5G1 null mutant or targeted Adar knockdown motor neurons exhibit increased excitability. GABA inhibitory signalling is impaired in human epileptic and autistic conditions, and vertebrate ADARs may have a relevant evolutionarily conserved control over neuronal excitability.
PMCID: PMC3902911  PMID: 24137011
25.  Regulation of glutamate receptor B pre-mRNA splicing by RNA editing 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(11):3723-3732.
RNA-editing enzymes of the ADAR family convert adenosines to inosines in double-stranded RNA substrates. Frequently, editing sites are defined by base-pairing of the editing site with a complementary intronic region. The glutamate receptor subunit B (GluR-B) pre-mRNA harbors two such exonic editing sites termed Q/R and R/G. Data from ADAR knockout mice and in vitro editing assays suggest an intimate connection between editing and splicing of GluR-B pre-mRNA.
By comparing the events at the Q/R and R/G sites, we can show that editing can both stimulate and repress splicing efficiency. The edited nucleotide, but not ADAR binding itself, is sufficient to exert this effect. The presence of an edited nucleotide at the R/G site reduces splicing efficiency of the adjacent intron facilitating alternative splicing events occurring downstream of the R/G site.
Lack of editing inhibits splicing at the Q/R site. Editing of both the Q/R nucleotide and an intronic editing hotspot are required to allow efficient splicing. Inefficient intron removal may ensure that only properly edited mRNAs become spliced and exported to the cytoplasm.
PMCID: PMC1920255  PMID: 17517775

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