Bohnsack KE, Kleiber N, Lemus-Diaz N, Bohnsack MT
Trends in Biochemical Sciences
Trends Biochem Sci. 2022 Mar 29:S0968-0004(22)00063-9.
Modified nucleotides within cellular RNAs significantly influence their biogenesis, stability, and function. As reviewed here, 3-methylcytidine (m3C) has recently come to the fore through the identification of the methyltransferases responsible for installing m3C32 in human tRNAs. Mechanistic details of how m3C32 methyltransferases recognize their substrate tRNAs have been uncovered and the biogenetic and functional relevance of interconnections between m3C32 and modified adenosines at position 37 highlighted. Functional insights into the role of m3C32 modifications indicate that they influence tRNA structure and, consistently, lack of m3C32 modifications impairs translation. Development of quantitative, transcriptome-wide m3C mapping approaches and the discovery of an m3C demethylase reveal m3C to be dynamic, raising the possibility that it contributes to fine-tuning gene expression in different conditions.