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Mammalian conserved ADAR targets comprise only a small fragment of the human editosome

Yishay Pinto, Haim Y Cohen and Erez Y Levanon*

Author Affiliations

Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel

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Genome Biology 2014, 15:R5  doi:10.1186/gb-2014-15-1-r5

Published: 7 January 2014

Abstract

Background

ADAR proteins are among the most extensively studied RNA binding proteins. They bind to their target and deaminate specific adenosines to inosines. ADAR activity is essential, and the editing of a subset of their targets is critical for viability. Recently, a huge number of novel ADAR targets were detected by analyzing next generation sequencing data. Most of these novel editing sites are located in lineage-specific genomic repeats, probably a result of overactivity of editing enzymes, thus masking the functional sites. In this study we aim to identify the set of mammalian conserved ADAR targets.

Results

We used RNA sequencing data from human, mouse, rat, cow, opossum, and platypus to define the conserved mammalian set of ADAR targets. We found that the conserved mammalian editing sites are surprisingly small in number and have unique characteristics that distinguish them from non-conserved ones. The sites that constitute the set have a distinct genomic distribution, tend to be located in genes encoding neurotransmitter receptors or other synapse related proteins, and have higher editing and expression levels. We also found a high consistency of editing levels of this set within mice strains and between human and mouse. Tight regulation of editing in these sites across strains and species implies their functional importance.

Conclusions

Despite the discovery of numerous editing targets, only a small number of them are conserved within mammalian evolution. These sites are extremely highly conserved and exhibit unique features, such as tight regulation, and probably play a pivotal role in mammalian biology.