RNA modifications as regulators of stem cell function
Many of the hundreds of known chemical modifications in RNA were discovered over forty years ago but then forgotten because suitable, sensitive tools to detect the modifications at high resolution were lacking. Through the development of novel biochemical, functional and genomics tools we are only now beginning to understand the whole breadth and extensive functional roles of RNA modifications in higher organisms. I will present some mechanistic examples how RNA modifications help to shape normal tissue homeostasis, and how aberrant formation of RNA modifications contributes to disease. By focusing on potential roles of RNA modification in regulating gene transcription, I will discuss some challenges in identifying the molecular function of RNA modifications in abundant non-coding RNAs. Together, our work demonstrates that by understanding the role of RNA modifications in physiology and pathology, novel and powerful therapeutic drug targets for human diseases and cancer can potentially be identified and further optimized for clinical studies.
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