5-Methylcytosine (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), two of the best-studied DNA modifications, play crucial roles in normal development and disease in mammals. Although 5-methylcytidine (m5C) and 5-hydroxymethylcytidine (hm5C) have also been identified in RNA, their distribution and biological function in RNA remain largely unexplored, due to the lack of suitable sequencing methods.
Here, University of Oxford researchers report a base-resolution sequencing method for hm5C in RNA. They applied the selective oxidation of hm5C to trihydroxylated-thymine (thT) mediated by peroxotungstate. thT was subsequently converted to T during cDNA synthesis using a thermostable group II intron reverse transcriptase (TGIRT). Base-resolution analysis of the hm5C sites in RNA was performed using Sanger sequencing. Furthermore, in combination with the TET enzyme oxidation of m5C to hm5C in RNA, the researchers expand the use of peroxotungstate oxidation to detect m5C in RNA at base-resolution. By using this method, they confirmed three known m5C sites in human tRNA, demonstrating the applicability of this method in analyzing real RNA samples.