Objective: Sjögren's disease (SjD) is an autoimmune disease characterised by inflammatory destruction of exocrine glands. Patients with autoantibodies to Ro/SSA (SjDRo+) exhibit more severe disease. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a functionally diverse class of non-protein-coding RNAs whose role in autoimmune disease pathology has not been well characterised.
Methods: Whole blood RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) was performed on SjD cases (n=23 Ro/SSA negative (SjDRo-); n=27 Ro/SSA positive (SjDRo+) and healthy controls (HCs; n=27). Bioinformatics and pathway analyses of differentially expressed (DE) transcripts (log2 fold change ≥2 or ≤0.5; padj<0.05) were used to predict lncRNA function. LINC01871 was characterised by RNA-seq analyses of HSB-2 cells with CRISPR-targeted LINC01871 deletion (LINC01871-/ -) and in vitro stimulation assays.
Results: Whole blood RNA-seq revealed autoantibody-specific transcription profiles and disproportionate downregulation of DE transcripts in SjD cases relative to HCs. Sixteen DE lncRNAs exhibited correlated expression with the interferon (IFN)-regulated gene, RSAD2, in SjDRo+ (r≥0.65 or ≤-0.6); four antisense lncRNAs exhibited IFN-regulated expression in immune cell lines. LINC01871 was upregulated in all SjD cases. RNA-seq and pathway analyses of LINC01871-/ - cells implicated roles in cytotoxic function, differentiation and IFNγ induction. LINC01871 was induced by IFNγ in a myeloid cell line and regulated by calcineurin/NFAT pathway and T cell receptor (TCR) signalling in primary human T cells.
Conclusion: LINC01871 influences expression of many immune cell genes and growth factors, is IFNγ inducible, and regulated by calcineurin signalling and TCR ligand engagement. Altered LINC01871 expression may influence the dysregulated T cell inflammatory pathways implicated in SjD.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02327884.
Keywords: Autoantibodies; Autoimmune Diseases; Autoimmunity; Polymorphism, Genetic; Sjogren's Syndrome.
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