In the central dogma of molecular biology, RNA was thought only to pass genetic information from DNA to protein. Most recent findings strongly indicate that RNA modifications, like mRNA methylation, play dynamic regulatory roles that are analogous to the reversible epigenetic modifications of DNA and histone proteins. Understanding the function and mechanisms of the dynamic RNA modifications, which are termed ‘RNA epigenetics’, represents a new challenge at the frontier between different disciplines, such as biochemistry, epigenetics and cutting-edge technology.
Reversible RNA modifications add a new dimension to the developing picture of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. This new dimension awaits integration with transcriptional regulation, i.e. DNA modifications, to decipher the multi-layered information that controls a plethora of biological functions. Thus, in the era of advanced technologies, the exciting next step is to move from mapping nucleotide modifications to understanding how they contribute to biological processes.
This EMBO Workshop involves sessions dedicated to recent advances in the epigenomic and epitranscriptomic regulation of stem cell pluripotency and differentiation, organismal development, and how their alteration brings about human diseases. Particular emphasis on approaches enabling targeted manipulation of epigenetic marks, which are revolutionising the field, will be addressed.