LncRNA-mRNA co-expression network revealing the regulatory roles of lncRNAs in melanogenesis in vitiligo

J Hum Genet. 2021 Nov 24. doi: 10.1038/s10038-021-00993-z. Online ahead of print.


Vitiligo is characterized by the progressive disappearance of melanocytes, resulting in depigmentation. Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a class of noncoding RNAs that play an essential role in the regulation of inflammation and immunity. Published reports on the expression profile of lncRNAs in vitiligo cases and the potential biological function of lncRNAs in vitiligo are lacking. We performed RNA-Seq to identify the functions of lncRNAs in vitiligo. In total, 32 upregulated lncRNAs and 78 downregulated lncRNAs were identified in skin lesions with vitiligo. Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes analysis demonstrated that mRNAs regulated by abnormally expressed lncRNAs are most relevant to melanocyte function and melanogenesis. We identified 14 aberrantly expressed lncRNAs through the co-expression pattern that regulate the melanogenesis-related genes DCT, TYR, and TYRP1. Therefore, we speculate that these hub genes may be involved in pathological mechanisms in melanocytes in vitiligo. These genes are closely related to melanogenesis in vitiligo. Abnormally expressed lncRNAs directly or indirectly act on these target genes to regulate melanogenesis. Identifying lncRNAs and clarifying the regulatory roles of the lncRNA-mRNA network may be helpful to develop novel diagnoses or treatment targets for vitiligo.