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Heiss, Matthias; Kellner, Stefanie (2017): Detection of nucleic acid modifications by chemical reagents. In: Rna Biology, Vol. 14, No. 9: pp. 1166-1174
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Nucleic acids, especially RNA, naturally contain a diversity of chemically modified nucleosides. To understand the biological role of these modified nucleosides, nucleic acid scientists need tools to specifically label, detect and enrich modified nucleic acids. These tools comprise a diverse set of chemical reagents which have been established in the early years of nucleic acid research. Recent developments in high-throughput sequencing and mass spectrometry utilize these chemical labeling strategies to efficiently detect and localize modifications in nucleic acids. As a consequence the transcriptome-wide distribution of modified nucleosides, especially 5-methylcytosine and pseudouridine, in all domains of life could be analyzed. With the help of these techniques and the gained knowledge, it becomes possible to understand the functions of modifications and even study their connections to human health and disease. Here, the differential chemical reactivity of modified nucleosides and their canonical counterpart is reviewed and discussed.