RNA marker modifications reveal the necessity for rigorous preparation protocols to avoid artifacts in epitranscriptomic analysis

Florian Richter, Johanna E Plehn, Larissa Bessler, Jasmin Hertler, Marko Jörg, Cansu Cirzi, Francesca Tuorto, Kristina Friedland, and Mark Helm

Nucleic Acids Research, gkab1150, doi:10.1093/nar/gkab1150

Modifications to RNA are generating a great deal of excitement as an “epitranscriptomic” mechanism for controlling gene expression. This research has important implications for basic science, tool development, diagnosis, and drug discovery. In many cases, however, effects are subtle. Laying a foundation for progress requires confirmation that data are robust and believable. In this study, the authors take a close look at how RNA modifications can be affected by how tissue is handled post-mortem. They find dramatic differences between liver and brain. Even within brain, there are differences between different sections. These differences are not relevant to biological function and the data emphasize the need to carefully handle tissue. Without this cautious approach, seemingly exciting findings may turn out to be cellular debris due to post-mortem degradation of RNA. The results have important implications for interpreting the validity of results claiming RNA modifications.

Free Full Text