Adenosine-to-inosine RNA editing meets cancer

Dan Dominissini, Sharon Moshitch-Moshkovitz, Ninette Amariglio, Gideon Rechavi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The role of epigenetics in tumor onset and progression has been extensively addressed. Discoveries in the last decade completely changed our view on RNA. We now realize that its diversity lies at the base of biological complexity. Adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing emerges a central generator of transcriptome diversity and regulation in higher eukaryotes. It is the posttranscriptional deamination of adenosine to inosine in double-stranded RNA catalyzed by enzymes of the adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) family. Thought at first to be restricted to coding regions of only a few genes, recent bioinformatic analyses fueled by high-throughput sequencing revealed that it is a widespread modification affecting mostly non-coding repetitive elements in thousands of genes. The rise in scope is accompanied by discovery of a growing repertoire of functions based on differential decoding of inosine by the various cellular machineries: when recognized as guanosine, it can lead to protein recoding, alternative splicing or altered microRNA specificity; when recognized by inosine-binding proteins, it can result in nuclear retention of the transcript or its degradation. An imbalance in expression of ADAR enzymes with consequent editing dysregulation is a characteristic of human cancers. These alterations may be responsible for activating proto-oncogenes or inactivating tumor suppressors. While unlikely to be an early initiating 'hit', editing dysregulation seems to contribute to tumor progression and thus should be considered a 'driver mutation'. In this review, we examine the contribution of A-to-I RNA editing to carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1569-1577
Number of pages9
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


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