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Mammalian Y RNAs are modified at discrete guanosine residues with N-glycans

By Ryan A. Flynn, Benjamin A. H. Smith, Alex G. Johnson, Kayvon Pedram, Benson M. George, Stacy A. Malaker, Karim Majzoub, Jan E. Carette, Carolyn R. Bertozzi

Posted 30 Sep 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/787614

Glycans modify lipids and proteins to mediate inter- and intramolecular interactions across all domains of life. RNA, another multifaceted biopolymer, is not thought to be a major target of glycosylation. Here, we challenge this view with evidence that mammalian cells use RNA as a third scaffold for glycosylation in the secretory pathway. Using a battery of chemical and biochemical approaches, we find that a select group of small noncoding RNAs including Y RNAs are modified with complex, sialylated N-glycans (glycoRNAs). These glycoRNA are present in multiple cell types and mammalian species, both in cultured cells and in vivo. Finally, we find that RNA glycosylation depends on the canonical N-glycan biosynthetic machinery within the ER/Golgi luminal spaces. Collectively, these findings suggest the existence of a ubiquitous interface of RNA biology and glycobiology suggesting an expanded role for glycosylation beyond canonical lipid and protein scaffolds.

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