Jin Billy Li

The landscape of RNA editing in the transcriptomes The main interest of Jin Billy Li’s lab is to identify and interpret the RNA editing sites using a variety of approaches including genomics, technology development, and computational biology. RNA editing is a phenomenon where genomically encoded information is changed in the RNA. Adenosine-to-Inosine (A-to-I) editing is the most common type of editing, and is achieved by enzymes called Adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR). RNA editing is critical because ADAR knockout mice die before or shortly after birth. Despite the fact that RNA editing was first discovered over twenty years ago, it has been surprisingly under appreciated and under explored. Very few RNA editing sites had been discovered in humans, mainly due to technological barriers. We recently expanded the RNA “editome” to about 400 sites by computational prediction followed by targeted next generation sequencing (Li et al., Science 2009, 324:1210-1213). This, however, is probably just tip of the iceberg. Our lab will continue the discovery of the RNA editing sites in the transcriptomes of human and may model organisms, as well as various disorders such as autism and cancers. Our main approach is next generation sequencing and computational data analysis. Bioinformatics skills are also needed in a genome-wide association study to link genetic variations with the RNA editing level of a nearby editing site. In a longer term, we aim to perform functional genomic screening of these newly identified RNA editing sites.