Mettl14-mediated m6A modification modulates neuron apoptosis during the repair of spinal cord injury by regulating the transformation from pri-mir-375 to miR-375

Cell Biosci. 2021 Mar 11;11(1):52. doi: 10.1186/s13578-020-00526-9.


Background: Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a disabling disorder, resulting in neurological impairments. This study investigated the mechanism of methyltransferase-like 14 (Mettl14) on apoptosis of spinal cord neurons during SCI repair by mediating pri-microRNA (miR) dependent N6-methyladenosine (m6A) methylation.

Methods: The m6A content in total RNA and Mettl14 levels in spinal cord tissues of SCI rats were detected. Mettl14 expression was intervened in SCI rats to examine motor function, neuron apoptosis, and recovery of neurites. The cell model of SCI was established and intervened with Mettl14. miR-375, related to SCI and positively related to Mettl14, was screened out. The expression of miR-375 and pri-miR-375 after Mettl14 intervention was detected. The expression of pri-miR-375 combined with DiGeorge critical region 8 (DGCR8) and that modified by m6A was detected. Furthermore, the possible downstream gene and pathway of miR-375 were analysed. SCI cell model with Mettl14 intervention was combined with Ras-related dexamethasone-induced 1 (RASD1)/miR-375 intervention to observe the apoptosis.

Results: Mettl14 level and m6A content in spinal cord tissue were significantly increased. After Mettl14 knockdown, the injured motor function was restored and neuron apoptosis was reduced. In vitro, Mettl14 silencing reduced the apoptosis of SCI cells; miR-375 was reduced and pri-miR-375 was increased; miR-375 targeted RASD1. Silencing Mettl14 inactivated the mTOR pathway. The apoptosis in cells treated with silencing Mettl14 + RASD1/miR-375 was inhibited.

Conclusions: Mettl14-mediated m6A modification inhibited RASD1 and induced the apoptosis of spinal cord neurons in SCI by promoting the transformation of pri-miR-375 to mature miR-375.

Keywords: Mettl14; Pri‐mir‐375; RASD1; Spinal cord injury; m6A modification; miR-375.