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Multiple links between 5-methylcytosine content of mRNA and translation


BACKGROUND: 5-Methylcytosine (m(5)C) is a prevalent base modification in tRNA and rRNA but it also occurs more broadly in the transcriptome, including in mRNA, where it serves incompletely understood molecular functions. In pursuit of potential links of m(5)C with mRNA translation, we performed polysome profiling of human HeLa cell lysates and subjected RNA from resultant fractions to efficient bisulfite conversion followed by RNA sequencing (bsRNA-seq). Bioinformatic filters for rigorous site calling were devised to reduce technical noise. RESULTS: We obtained ~ 1000 candidate m(5)C sites in the wider transcriptome, most of which were found in mRNA. Multiple novel sites were validated by amplicon-specific bsRNA-seq in independent samples of either human HeLa, LNCaP and PrEC cells. Furthermore, RNAi-mediated depletion of either the NSUN2 or TRDMT1 m(5)C:RNA methyltransferases showed a clear dependence on NSUN2 for the majority of tested sites in both mRNAs and noncoding RNAs. Candidate m(5)C sites in mRNAs are enriched in 5'UTRs and near start codons and are embedded in a local context reminiscent of the NSUN2-dependent m(5)C sites found in the variable loop of tRNA. Analysing mRNA sites across the polysome profile revealed that modification levels, at bulk and for many individual sites, were inversely correlated with ribosome association. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings emphasise the major role of NSUN2 in placing the m(5)C mark transcriptome-wide. We further present evidence that substantiates a functional interdependence of cytosine methylation level with mRNA translation. Additionally, we identify several compelling candidate sites for future mechanistic analysis.

Type Journal
ISBN 1741-7007 (Electronic) 1741-7007 (Linking)
Authors Schumann, U.; Zhang, H. N.; Sibbritt, T.; Pan, A.; Horvath, A.; Gross, S.; Clark, S. J.; Yang, L.; Preiss, T.
Responsible Garvan Author Prof Susan Clark
Publisher Name BMC Biology
Published Date 2020-04-15
Published Volume 18
Published Issue 1
Published Pages 40
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1186/s12915-020-00769-5
URL link to publisher's version