Immunomodulatory LncRNA on antisense strand of ICAM-1 augments SARS-CoV-2 infection-associated airway mucoinflammatory phenotype

iScience. 2022 Aug 19;25(8):104685. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104685. Epub 2022 Jun 30.


Noncoding RNAs are important regulators of mucoinflammatory response, but little is known about the contribution of airway long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in COVID-19. RNA-seq analysis showed a more than 4-fold increased expression of IL-6, ICAM-1, CXCL-8, and SCGB1A1 inflammatory factors; MUC5AC and MUC5B mucins; and SPDEF, FOXA3, and FOXJ1 transcription factors in COVID-19 patient nasal samples compared with uninfected controls. A lncRNA on antisense strand to ICAM-1 or LASI was induced 2-fold in COVID-19 patients, and its expression was directly correlated with viral loads. A SARS-CoV-2-infected 3D-airway model largely recapitulated these clinical findings. RNA microscopy and molecular modeling indicated a possible interaction between viral RNA and LASI lncRNA. Notably, blocking LASI lncRNA reduced the SARS-CoV-2 replication and suppressed MUC5AC mucin levels and associated inflammation, and select LASI-dependent miRNAs (e.g., let-7b-5p and miR-200a-5p) were implicated. Thus, LASI lncRNA represents an essential facilitator of SARS-CoV-2 infection and associated airway mucoinflammatory response.

Keywords: Immunology; Molecular biology; Molecular mechanism of gene regulation; Virology.