Immuno-northern blotting: Detection of RNA modifications by using antibodies against modified nucleosides

Eikan Mishima, Daisuke Jinno, Yasutoshi Akiyama, Kunihiko Itoh, Shinnosuke Nankumo, Hisato Shima, Koichi Kikuchi, Yoichi Takeuchi, Alaa Elkordy, Takehiro Suzuki, Kuniyasu Niizuma, Sadayoshi Ito, Yoshihisa Tomioka, Takaaki Abe

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64 Citations (Scopus)


The biological roles of RNA modifications are still largely not understood. Thus, developing a method for detecting RNA modifications is important for further clarification. We developed a method for detecting RNA modifications called immuno-northern blotting (INB) analysis and herein introduce its various capabilities. This method involves the separation of RNAs using either polyacrylamide or agarose gel electrophoresis, followed by transfer onto a nylon membrane and subsequent immunoblotting using antibodies against modified nucleosides for the detection of specific modifications. We confirmed that INB with the antibodies for 1-methyladenosine (m1A), N6-methyladenosine (m6A), pseudouridine, and 5-methylcytidine (m5C) showed different modifications in a variety of RNAs from various species and organelles. INB with the anti-m5C antibody revealed that the antibody crossreacted with another modification on DNA, suggesting the application of this method for characterization of the antibody for modified nucleosides. Additionally, using INB with the antibody for m1A, which is a highly specific modification in eukaryotic tRNA, we detected tRNA-derived fragments known as tiRNAs under the cellular stress response, suggesting the application for tracking target RNA containing specific modifications. INB with the antim6A antibody confirmed the demethylation of m6A by the specific demethylases fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO) and ALKBH5, suggesting its application for quantifying target modifications in separated RNAs. Furthermore, INB demonstrated that the knockdown of FTO and ALKBH5 increased the m6A modification in small RNAs as well as in mRNA. The INB method has high specificity, sensitivity, and quantitative capability, and it can be employed with conventional experimental apparatus. Therefore, this method would be useful for research on RNA modifications and metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0143756
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Nov 1


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