METTL14 promotes apoptosis of spinal cord neurons by inducing EEF1A2 m6A methylation in spinal cord injury

Cell Death Discov. 2022 Jan 10;8(1):15. doi: 10.1038/s41420-021-00808-2.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating traumatic condition. METTL14-mediated m6A modification is associated with SCI. This study was intended to investigate the functional mechanism of RNA methyltransferase METTL14 in spinal cord neuron apoptosis during SCI. The SCI rat model was established, followed by evaluation of pathological conditions, apoptosis, and viability of spinal cord neurons. The neuronal function of primary cultured spinal motoneurons of rats was assessed after hypoxia/reoxygenation treatment. Expressions of EEF1A2, Akt/mTOR pathway-related proteins, inflammatory cytokines, and apoptosis-related proteins were detected. EEF1A2 was weakly expressed and Akt/mTOR pathway was inhibited in SCI rat models. Hypoxia/Reoxygenation decreased the viability of spinal cord neurons, promoted LDH release and neuronal apoptosis. EEF1A2 overexpression promoted the viability of spinal cord neurons, inhibited neuronal apoptosis, and decreased inflammatory cytokine levels. Silencing METTL14 inhibited m6A modification of EEF1A2 and increased EEF1A2 expression while METTL14 overexpression showed reverse results. EEF1A2 overexpression promoted viability and inhibited apoptosis of spinal cord neurons and inflammation by activating the Akt/mTOR pathway. In conclusion, silencing METTL14 repressed apoptosis of spinal cord neurons and attenuated SCI by inhibiting m6A modification of EEF1A2 and activating the Akt/mTOR pathway.