It has for a long time been known that repetitive elements, particularly Alu sequences in human, are edited by the adenosine deaminases acting on RNA, ADAR, family. The functional interpretation of these events has been even more difficult than that of editing events in coding sequences, but today there is an emerging understanding of their downstream effects. A surprisingly large fraction of the human transcriptome contains inverted Alu repeats, often forming long double stranded structures in RNA transcripts, typically occurring in introns and UTRs of protein coding genes. Alu repeats are also common in other primates, and similar inverted repeats can frequently be found in non-primates, although the latter are less prone to duplex formation. In human, as many as 700,000 Alu elements have been identified as substrates for RNA editing, of which many are edited at several sites. In fact, recent advancements in transcriptome sequencing techniques and bioinformatics have revealed that the human editome comprises at least a hundred million adenosine to inosine (A-to-I) editing sites in Alu sequences. Although substantial additional efforts are required in order to map the editome, already present knowledge provides an excellent starting point for studying cis-regulation of editing. In this review, we will focus on editing of long stem loop structures in the human transcriptome and how it can effect gene expression.
2015. Vol. 117, 22-27 p.