A-to-I RNA editing uncovers hidden signals of adaptive genome evolution in animals

Niko Popitsch, Christian D. Huber, Ilana Buchumenski, Eli Eisenberg, Michael Jantsch, Arndt von Haeseler, Miguel Gallach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In animals, the most common type of RNA editing is the deamination of adenosines (A) into inosines (I). Because inosines basepair with cytosines (C), they are interpreted as guanosines (G) by the cellular machinery and genomically encoded G alleles at edited sites mimic the function of edited RNAs. The contribution of this hardwiring effect on genome evolution remains obscure. We looked for population genomics signatures of adaptive evolution associated with A-to-I RNA edited sites in humans and Drosophila melanogaster. We found that single nucleotide polymorphisms at edited sites occur 3 (humans) to 15 times (Drosophila) more often than at unedited sites, the nucleotide G is virtually the unique alternative allele at edited sites and G alleles segregate at higher frequency at edited sites than at unedited sites. Our study reveals that a significant fraction of coding synonymous and nonsynonymous as well as silent and intergenic A-to-I RNA editing sites are likely adaptive in the distantly related human and Drosophila lineages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-357
Number of pages13
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


We thank Angela M. Hancock and Michael DeGiorgio for valuable comments and suggestions, Nadia Singh for providing data, and Jennifer Gage for proofreading the manuscript. Funded by Austrian Science Foundation grant SFB F43-13 and P26882 (to M.J.), Israel Science Foundation grant 379/12 (to E.E.), and Australian Research Council grant DE180100883 (to C.D.H.).

FundersFunder number
Australian Research CouncilDE180100883
Austrian Science FundP26882, SFB F43-13
Israel Science Foundation379/12


    • Drosophila
    • Human
    • Natural selection
    • RNA editing


    Dive into the research topics of 'A-to-I RNA editing uncovers hidden signals of adaptive genome evolution in animals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this