Front Bioeng Biotechnol 2015 25;3:37. Epub 2015 Mar 25.
Department of Clinical and Molecular Biomedicine, University of Catania , Catania , Italy.
RNA editing is a dynamic mechanism for gene regulation attained through the alteration of the sequence of primary RNA transcripts. A-to-I (adenosine-to-inosine) RNA editing, which is catalyzed by members of the adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) family of enzymes, is the most common post-transcriptional modification in humans. The ADARs bind double-stranded regions and deaminate adenosine (A) into inosine (I), which in turn is interpreted by the translation and splicing machineries as guanosine (G). In recent years, this modification has been discovered to occur not only in coding RNAs but also in non-coding RNAs (ncRNA), such as microRNAs, small interfering RNAs, transfer RNAs, and long non-coding RNAs. This may have several consequences, such as the creation or disruption of microRNA/mRNA binding sites, and thus affect the biogenesis, stability, and target recognition properties of ncRNAs. The malfunction of the editing machinery is not surprisingly associated with various human diseases, such as neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, and carcinogenic diseases. Despite the enormous efforts made so far, the real biological function of this phenomenon, as well as the features of the ADAR substrate, in particular in non-coding RNAs, has still not been fully understood. In this work, we focus on the current knowledge of RNA editing on ncRNA molecules and provide a few examples of computational approaches to elucidate its biological function.