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Marking RNA: m6A writers, readers, and functions in Arabidopsis
Marlene Reichel, Tino Köster, and Dorothee Staiger *
RNA Biology and Molecular Physiology, Faculty of Biology, Bielefeld University, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany
*Correspondence to:Dorothee Staiger, E-mail: dorothee.staiger@uni-bielefeld.de
J Mol Cell Biol, Volume 11, Issue 10, October 2019, Pages 899-910  https://doi.org/10.1093/jmcb/mjz085
Keyword: Arabidopsis, m6A, mRNA interactome, posttranscriptional, RNA-binding protein

N6-methyladenosine (m6A) emerges as an important modification in eukaryotic mRNAs. m6A has first been reported in 1974, and its functional significance in mammalian gene regulation and importance for proper development have been well established. An arsenal of writer, eraser, and reader proteins accomplish deposition, removal, and interpretation of the m6A mark, resulting in dynamic function. This led to the concept of an epitranscriptome, the compendium of RNA species with chemical modification of the nucleobases in the cell, in analogy to the epigenome. While m6A has long been known to also exist in plant mRNAs, proteins involved in m6A metabolism have only recently been detected by mutant analysis, homology search, and mRNA interactome capture in the reference plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Dysregulation of the m6A modification causes severe developmental abnormalities of leaves and roots and altered timing of reproductive development. Furthermore, m6A modification affects viral infection. Here, we discuss recent progress in identifying m6A sites transcriptome-wide, in identifying the molecular players involved in writing, removing, and reading the mark, and in assigning functions to this RNA modification in A. thaliana. We highlight similarities and differences to m6A modification in mammals and provide an outlook on important questions that remain to be addressed.