In a new study published online on February 12, 2012 in Nature Biotechnology, researchers from China’s BGI, the world's largest genomics organization, reported the evidence of extensive RNA editing in a human cell line by analysis of RNA-seq data, demonstrating the need for new robust methods to identify important post-transcriptional editing events. RNA editing is a normal, but not yet fully understood, process in which small nucleotide changes occur after DNA has been transcribed into RNA. It is an integral step in generating diversity and plasticity of cellular RNA signature as a post-transciptional event that recodes hereditary information. RNA editing is an important area in the post-genomic era for its role in determining protein structure and function. It has become increasingly important in genetic research. Last year, a study published in Science (Li et al. Science, May 19, 2011) reported a large number of sequence differences between mRNA and DNA in the human transcriptome. This finding was startling because it implied that there might be a still undiscovered mechanism of 'RNA editing' that could disrupt the central dogma and affect our understanding of genetic variation. However, this view was strongly contested by other scientists because of the technical issue and lack of academic rigor, such as sequencing error or mis-mapping. In this latest study, BGI researchers developed a more rigorous pipeline for approaching these problems and answered some of the concerned questions, which contributed to paving way for the further studies of this field. The researchers obtained the whole-transcriptome data by RNA-seq from a lymphoblastoid cell line of a male Han Chinese individual (YH), whose genome sequence was previously reported as the first diploid genome of Han Chinese.
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