Chronic vascular inflammation plays a key role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have emerged as essential inflammation regulators. We identify a novel lncRNA termed lncRNA-MAP3K4 that is enriched in the vessel wall and regulates vascular inflammation. In the aortic intima, lncRNA-MAP3K4 expression was reduced by 50% during the progression of atherosclerosis (chronic inflammation) and 70% during endotoxemia (acute inflammation). lncRNA-MAP3K4 knockdown reduced the expression of key inflammatory factors (eg, ICAM-1, E-selectin, MCP-1) in endothelial cells or vascular smooth muscle cells and decreased monocytes adhesion to endothelium, as well as reducing TNF-α, IL-1β, COX2 expression in macrophages. Mechanistically, lncRNA-MAP3K4 regulates inflammation through the p38 MAPK signaling pathway. lncRNA-MAP3K4 shares a bidirectional promoter with MAP3K4, an upstream regulator of the MAPK signaling pathway, and regulates its transcription in cis. lncRNA-MAP3K4 and MAP3K4 show coordinated expression in response to inflammation in vivo and in vitro. Similar to lncRNA-MAP3K4, MAP3K4 knockdown reduced the expression of inflammatory factors in several different vascular cells. Furthermore, lncRNA-MAP3K4 and MAP3K4 knockdown showed cooperativity in reducing inflammation in endothelial cells. Collectively, these findings unveil the role of a novel lncRNA in vascular inflammation by cis-regulating MAP3K4 via a p38 MAPK pathway.
Keywords: ChIP-seq; atherosclerosis; bidirectional promoter; eRNA; vascular cells.
© 2020 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.