Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 1596–1606 | Cite as

m6A RNA Methylation Controls Neural Development and Is Involved in Human Diseases

  • Kunzhao Du
  • Longbin Zhang
  • Trevor Lee
  • Tao SunEmail author


RNA modifications are involved in many aspects of biological functions. N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is one of the most important forms of RNA methylation and plays a vital role in regulating gene expression, protein translation, cell behaviors, and physiological conditions in many species, including humans. The dynamic and reversible modification of m6A is conducted by three elements: methyltransferases (“writers”), such as methyltransferase-like protein 3 (METTL3) and METTL14; m6A-binding proteins (“readers”), such as the YTH domain family proteins (YTHDFs) and YTH domain-containing protein 1 (YTHDC1); and demethylases (“erasers”), such as fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO) and AlkB homolog 5 (ALKBH5). In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on mapping mRNA positions of m6A modification and revealing molecular processes of m6A. We further highlight the biological significance of m6A modification in neural cells during development of the nervous system and its association with human diseases. m6A RNA methylation is becoming a new frontier in neuroscience and should help us better understand neural development and neurological diseases from a novel point of view.


N6-methyladenosine (m6A) Methyltransferase Demethylase METTL3 FTO Neural development 



We thank the members of the Sun Laboratory for their valuable discussions and advice.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the Subsidized Project for Postgraduates’ Innovative Fund in Scientific Research of Huaqiao University (K.D.), an R01-MH083680 grant from the NIH/NIMH (T.S.), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81471152, 31771141, and 81701132).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Precision Medicine, School of Medicine and School of Biomedical SciencesHuaqiao UniversityXiamenChina
  2. 2.Department of Cell and Developmental BiologyCornell University Weill Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA

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