Review Article

New horizons for the role of RNA N6-methyladenosine modification in hepatocellular carcinoma

Yu-jia Li1, Yang-ling Qiu1, Meng-ran Li1, Min Shen2, Feng Zhang1, Jiang-juan Shao1, Xue-fen Xu3, Zi-li Zhang1, Shi-zhong Zheng1
1 Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Pharmacology and Safety Evaluation of Chinese Materia Medica, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210023, China
2 Institute of Translational Medicine, Medical College, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, China
3 Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine & Holistic Integrative Medicine, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210023, China
Correspondence to: Zi-li Zhang:, Shi-zhong Zheng:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-023-01214-3
Received: 2 August 2023
Accepted: 11 December 2023
Advance online: 9 January 2024


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancy, presenting a formidable challenge to the medical community owing to its intricate pathogenic mechanisms. Although current prevention, surveillance, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment have achieved some success in preventing HCC and controlling overall disease mortality, the imperative to explore novel treatment modalities for HCC remains increasingly urgent. Epigenetic modification has emerged as pivotal factors in the etiology of cancer. Among these, RNA N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification stands out as one of the most prevalent, abundant, and evolutionarily conserved post-transcriptional alterations in eukaryotes. The literature underscores that the dynamic and reversible nature of m6A modifications orchestrates the intricate regulation of gene expression, thereby exerting a profound influence on cell destinies. Increasing evidence has substantiated conspicuous fluctuations in m6A modification levels throughout the progression of HCC. The deliberate modulation of m6A modification levels through molecular biology and pharmacological interventions has been demonstrated to exert a discernible impact on the pathogenesis of HCC. In this review, we elucidate the multifaceted biological functions of m6A modifications in HCC, and concurrently advancing novel therapeutic strategies for the management of this malignancy.

Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma; post-transcriptional modification; RNA N6-methyladenosine modification

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