Modulation of RNA Cytosine-5 Methylation by Neuronal Activity and Methyl-donor Folate


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Virginia Tech


RNA epigenetics or Epitranscriptomics has emerged as a new field for understanding the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression by RNA modifications. Among numerous types of RNA modifications, RNA cytosine-5 methylation (5-mrC) is recognized as an important epitranscriptomic mark that modulates mRNA transportation, stability and translation.

In chapter 1, we summarize the currently available approaches to detect 5-mrC modification at global, transcriptome-wide and locus-specific levels, and compare the corresponding advantages and disadvantages of the techniques. We further focus on the bioinformatics data analysis of RNA bisulfite sequencing datasets by comparing existing packages with respect to key parameters for alignment and methylation calling and filtering of potentially false positive 5-mrC sites.

To investigate the dynamic regulation of 5-mrC modification, as described in chapter 2, we adopt a widely used neuronal activity model, and perform RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and RNA bisulfite sequencing (RNA BS-seq) to profile gene expression as well as transcriptome-wide 5-mrC modification. We have identified distinct gene expression profiles and differentially methylated 5-mrC sites (DMS) in neurons upon activation, and the genes with DMS sites are enriched with mitochondrial and synaptic functions. Moreover, it reveals a negative correlation between RNA methylation and mRNA expression in mouse cortical neurons during neuronal activity. Thus, these findings identify the dynamic regulation of 5-mrC modification during neuronal activity and reveal a potential link between RNA methylation and mRNA expression.

In chapter 3, we investigate the effect of folate, a methyl-donor, on RNA cytosine-5 methylation (5-mrC) modification in adult mouse neural stem cells (NSCs). Compared to the control, NSCs cultured in folate deficiency or supplementation condition have shown no changes in mRNA expression, but significant changes in mRNA translation efficiency. RNA bisulfite sequencing of both total and polysome poly(A) RNA samples shows distinct 5-mrC profiles in NSCs treated with different concentrations of folic acid. It also shows consistent hypermethylation in polysome mRNAs than that in total mRNAs. This study presents the comprehensive influence of folate deficiency and supplementation on RNA cytosine-5 methylation and mRNA translation.



RNA cytosine-5 methylation, RNA bisulfite sequencing, neuronal activity, neural stem cell, folic acid