Reactivity-dependent profiling of RNA 5-methylcytidine dioxygenases.
Epitranscriptomic RNA modifications can regulate fundamental biological processes, but we lack approaches to map modification sites and probe writer enzymes. Here we present a chemoproteomic strategy to characterize RNA 5-methylcytidine (mC) dioxygenase enzymes in their native context based upon metabolic labeling and activity-based crosslinking with 5-ethynylcytidine (5-EC). We profile mC dioxygenases in human cells including ALKBH1 and TET2 and show that ALKBH1 is the major hmC- and fC-forming enzyme in RNA. Further, we map ALKBH1 modification sites transcriptome-wide using 5-EC-iCLIP and ARP-based sequencing to identify ALKBH1-dependent mC oxidation in a variety of tRNAs and mRNAs and analyze ALKBH1 substrate specificity in vitro. We also apply targeted pyridine borane-mediated sequencing to measure fC sites on select tRNA. Finally, we show that fC at the wobble position of tRNA-Leu-CAA plays a role in decoding Leu codons under stress. Our work provides powerful chemical approaches for studying RNA mC dioxygenases and mapping oxidative mC modifications and reveals the existence of novel epitranscriptomic pathways for regulating RNA function.