Long non-coding RNAs link extracellular matrix gene expression to ischemic cardiomyopathy

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Abstract

Aims

Ischemic cardiomyopathy (ICM) resulting from myocardial infarction is a major cause of heart failure (HF). Recently, thousands of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been discovered and implicated in a variety of biological processes. However, the role of most lncRNAs in HF remains largely unknown. The aim of this study is to test the hypothesis that the expression and function of lncRNAs are differentially regulated in diseased hearts.

Methods and results

In this study, we performed RNA deep sequencing of protein-coding and non-coding RNAs from cardiac samples of patients with ICM (n = 15) and controls (n = 15). Genome-wide transcriptome analysis confirmed that many protein-coding genes previously known to be involved in HF were altered in ICM hearts. Among the 145 differentially expressed lncRNAs identified in ICM hearts, we found a set of 35 lncRNAs that display strong positive expression correlation. Expression correlation coefficient analyses of differentially expressed lncRNAs and protein-coding genes revealed a strong association between lncRNAs and extracellular matrix (ECM) protein-coding genes. We overexpressed or knocked down selected lncRNAs in cardiac fibroblasts and our results suggest that lncRNAs are important regulators of fibrosis and the expression of ECM synthesis genes. Moreover, we show that lncRNAs participate in the TGF-β pathway to modulate the expression of ECM genes and myofibroblast differentiation.

Conclusion

Our studies demonstrate that the expression of many lncRNAs is dynamically regulated in ICM. lncRNAs regulate the expression and function of ECM and cardiac fibrosis during the development of ICM. Our results further indicate that lncRNAs may represent novel regulators of heart function and cardiac disorders, including ICM.

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