Chapter 1 : Historical Perspectives on RNA Nucleoside Modifications

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This chapter provides the historical roots of current avenues of research on RNA nucleoside modifications by describing some functional sites, structural environments, and biosynthetic strategies with which the modifications are associated. It describes selected examples of nucleoside modifications in ribosomal, transfer, messenger, and small nuclear RNAs. Emphasis is placed on conspicuous association of the most abundant nucleoside modifications in eukaryotic rRNA with the peptidyl transfer site in the ribosome. The chapter also recounts the historical and chronological development of general knowledge about RNA structure and function. The early identifications of modified nucleosides relied heavily on application of the same "new" approaches (anion-exchange and filter-paper chromatography and UV spectrophotometry) that were described in considerable detail in the first volume of . In Ross Hall's monograph (1971), progress could already be reported about the biogenesis of base-and sugar-methylated nucleosides. When 2'- and 3'--aminoacyladenosines were prepared from the aminoacylated termini of tRNAs, they were among the first modified nucleosides to be identified as RNA constituents. Aminoacyladenosines, corresponding to the 20 (unmodified) amino acids found in proteins, have never previously been classified as modified nucleosides. The first hypermodified nucleoside to be reported and later correctly identified was described in a report in 1965. It seems fitting to remark that the direct functional consequence (frameshifting) of the first reported RNA editing event was instantly transparent, whereas the functional consequence of the first reported, and by far the most abundant, RNA modification (Ψ), has for more than 40 years remained all but opaque.

Citation: Lane B. 1998. Historical Perspectives on RNA Nucleoside Modifications, p 1-20. In Grosjean H, Benne R (ed), Modification and Editing of RNA. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818296.ch1

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