Positive-sense RNA viruses reveal the complexity and dynamics of the cellular and viral epitranscriptomes during infection.

Research paper by Will W McIntyre, Rachel R Netzband, Gaston G Bonenfant, Jason M JM Biegel, Clare C Miller, Gabriele G Fuchs, Eric E Henderson, Manoj M Arra, Mario M Canki, Daniele D Fabris, Cara T CT Pager

Indexed on: 27 Jan '18Published on: 27 Jan '18Published in: Nucleic acids research


More than 140 post-transcriptional modifications (PTMs) are known to decorate cellular RNAs, but their incidence, identity and significance in viral RNA are still largely unknown. We have developed an agnostic analytical approach to comprehensively survey PTMs on viral and cellular RNAs. Specifically, we used mass spectrometry to analyze PTMs on total RNA isolated from cells infected with Zika virus, Dengue virus, hepatitis C virus (HCV), poliovirus and human immunodeficiency virus type 1. All five RNA viruses significantly altered global PTM landscapes. Examination of PTM profiles of individual viral genomes isolated by affinity capture revealed a plethora of PTMs on viral RNAs, which far exceeds the handful of well-characterized modifications. Direct comparison of viral epitranscriptomes identified common and virus-specific PTMs. In particular, specific dimethylcytosine modifications were only present in total RNA from virus-infected cells, and in intracellular HCV RNA, and viral RNA from Zika and HCV virions. Moreover, dimethylcytosine abundance during viral infection was modulated by the cellular DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX6. By opening the Pandora's box on viral PTMs, this report presents numerous questions and hypotheses on PTM function and strongly supports PTMs as a new tier of regulation by which RNA viruses subvert the host and evade cellular surveillance systems.