MALAT1: An Epigenetic Regulator of Inflammation in Diabetic Retinopathy

Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 25;8(1):6526. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24907-w.


Despite possessing limited protein-coding potential, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been implicated in a myriad of pathologic conditions. Most well documented in cancer, one prominent intergenic lncRNA known as MALAT1 is notorious for its role in impacting epigenetic mechanisms. In this study, we established a novel epigenetic paradigm for MALAT in diabetic retinopathy (DR) by employing siRNA-mediated MALAT1 knockdown in human retinal endothelial cells (HRECs), a Malat1 knockout animal model, vitreous humor from diabetic patients, pharmacological inhibitors for histone and DNA methylation, RNA immunoprecipitation, western blotting, and a unique DNA methylation array to determine glucose-related alterations in MALAT1. Our findings indicated that MALAT1 is capable of impacting the expressions of inflammatory transcripts through its association with components of the PRC2 complex in diabetes. Furthermore, the vitreous humors from diabetic patients revealed increased expressions of MALAT1, TNF-α, and IL-6. Intriguingly, our DNA methylation array demonstrated that transient high glucose exposure in HRECs does not contribute to significant methylation alterations at CpG sites across the MALAT1 gene. However, global inhibition of DNA methyltransferases induced significant increases in MALAT1 and associated inflammatory transcripts in HRECs. Our findings collectively demonstrate the importance of MALAT1 in inflammation and epigenetic regulation in DR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • CpG Islands / genetics
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / genetics
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / genetics*
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics*
  • Glucose / genetics
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*
  • Retina / pathology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Vitreous Body / pathology


  • Interleukin-6
  • MALAT1 long non-coding RNA, human
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Glucose