Post-Transcriptional Regulation of Viral RNA through Epitranscriptional Modification

David G. Courtney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
139 Downloads (Pure)


The field of mRNA modifications has been steadily growing in recent years as technologies have improved and the importance of these residues became clear. However, a subfield has also arisen, specifically focused on how these modifications affect viral RNA, with the possibility that viruses can also be used as a model to best determine the role that these modifications play on cellular mRNAs. First, virologists focused on the most abundant internal mRNA modification, m6A, mapping this modification and elucidating its effects on the RNA of a wide range of RNA and DNA viruses. Next, less common RNA modifications including m5C, Nm and ac4C were investigated and also found to be present on viral RNA. It now appears that viral RNA is littered with a multitude of RNA modifications. In biological systems that are under constant evolutionary pressure to out compete both the host as well as newly arising viral mutants, it poses an interesting question about what evolutionary benefit these modifications provide as it seems evident, at least to this author, that these modifications have been selected for. In this review, I discuss how RNA modifications are identified on viral RNA and the roles that have now been uncovered for these modifications in regard to viral replication. Finally, I propose some interesting avenues of research that may shed further light on the exact role that these modifications play in viral replication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1129
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Early online date07 May 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 07 May 2021


  • virus
  • RNA
  • modification
  • epitranscriptomic
  • N6-methyladenosine
  • mapping
  • 5-methylcytosine
  • pseudouridine
  • HIV-1


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