N6-Methyladenosine Inhibits Local Ribonucleolytic Cleavage to Stabilize mRNAs in Arabidopsis

Stephen J. Anderson, Marianne C. Kramer, Sager J. Gosai, Xiang Yu, Lee E. Vandivier, Andrew D.L. Nelson, Zachary D. Anderson, Mark A. Beilstein, Rupert G. Fray, Eric Lyons, Brian D. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is a dynamic, reversible, covalently modified ribonucleotide that occurs predominantly toward 3′ ends of eukaryotic mRNAs and is essential for their proper function and regulation. In Arabidopsis thaliana, many RNAs contain at least one m6A site, yet the transcriptome-wide function of m6A remains mostly unknown. Here, we show that many m6A-modified mRNAs in Arabidopsis have reduced abundance in the absence of this mark. The decrease in abundance is due to transcript destabilization caused by cleavage occurring 4 or 5 nt directly upstream of unmodified m6A sites. Importantly, we also find that, upon agriculturally relevant salt treatment, m6A is dynamically deposited on and stabilizes transcripts encoding proteins required for salt and osmotic stress response. Overall, our findings reveal that m6A generally acts as a stabilizing mark through inhibition of site-specific cleavage in plant transcriptomes, and this mechanism is required for proper regulation of the salt-stress-responsive transcriptome. N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most prevalent internal covalent mRNA modification and is essential for proper function and regulation of the transcriptome. Using multiple transcriptome-wide approaches, Anderson et al. reveal that, in plant somatic tissue, m6A stabilizes transcripts by inhibiting ribonucleolytic cleavage directly upstream of these modification sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1146-1157.e3
JournalCell Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 30 2018


  • N-methyladenosine
  • RNA cleavage
  • RNA covalent modifications
  • RNA degradation
  • RNA stability
  • mA
  • mRNA
  • ribonuclease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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