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Journal of Nucleic Acids
Volume 2011, Article ID 408053, 17 pages
Review Article

Use of Specific Chemical Reagents for Detection of Modified Nucleotides in RNA

1Laboratoire ARN-RNP Maturation-Structure-Fonction, Enzymologie Moléculaire et Structurale (AREMS), UMR 7214 CNRS-UHP, Nancy Université, boulevard des Aiguillettes, BP 70239, 54506 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France
2Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Staudingerweg 5, 55099 Mainz, Germany

Received 15 October 2010; Accepted 24 January 2011

Academic Editor: Dmitry A. Stetsenko

Copyright © 2011 Isabelle Behm-Ansmant et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Naturally occurring cellular RNAs contain an impressive number of chemically distinct modified residues which appear posttranscriptionally, as a result of specific action of the corresponding RNA modification enzymes. Over 100 different chemical modifications have been identified and characterized up to now. Identification of the chemical nature and exact position of these modifications is typically based on 2D-TLC analysis of nucleotide digests, on HPLC coupled with mass spectrometry, or on the use of primer extension by reverse transcriptase. However, many modified nucleotides are silent in reverse transcription, since the presence of additional chemical groups frequently does not change base-pairing properties. In this paper, we give a summary of various chemical approaches exploiting the specific reactivity of modified nucleotides in RNA for their detection.