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The role of the LncRNA-FA2H-2-MLKL pathway in atherosclerosis by regulation of autophagy flux and inflammation through mTOR-dependent signaling


Atherosclerosis is a progressive, chronic inflammation in arterial walls. Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) participate in inflammation, but the exact mechanism in atherosclerosis is unclear. Our microarray analyses revealed that the levels of lncRNA-FA2H-2 were significantly decreased by oxidized low-density lipoprotein (OX-LDL). Bioinformatics analyses indicated that mixed lineage kinase domain-like protein (MLKL) might be regulated by lncRNA-FA2H-2. In vitro experiments showed that lncRNA-FA2H-2 interacted with the promoter of the MLKL gene, downregulated MLKL expression, and the binding sites between −750 and 471 were necessary for lncRNA-FA2H-2 responsiveness to MLKL. Silencing lncRNA-FA2H-2 and overexpression of MLKL could activate inflammation and inhibited autophagy flux. Both lncRNA-FA2H-2 knockdown and overexpression of MLKL could significantly aggravate inflammatory responses induced by OX-LDL. We found that the 3-methyladenine (3-MA) and Atg7-shRNA enhanced inflammatory responses induced by knockdown of lncRNA-FA2H-2 and overexpression of MLKL. We demonstrated that the effects of MLKL on autophagy might be associated with a mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR)-dependent signaling pathways. In vivo experiments with apoE knockout mice fed a western diet demonstrated that LncRNA-FA2H-2 knockdown decreased microtubule-associated expression of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 II and lysosome-associated membrane protein 1, but increased expression of sequestosome 1 (p62), MLKL, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, and interleukin-6 in atherosclerotic lesions. Our findings indicated that the lncRNA-FA2H-2-MLKL pathway is essential for regulation of autophagy and inflammation, and suggested that lncRNA-FA2H-2 and MLKL could act as potential therapeutic targets to ameliorate atherosclerosis-related diseases.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (grant numbers 81772244, 81572051, and 81472009), the Science and Technology Program of Guangzhou (Grant numbers 201604020015, 201704020213), the Natural Science Fund of Guangdong (grant numbers 2017A030313532, 2017A030313535, and 2015A030313245), the Science and Technology Program of Guangzhou (grant numbers 201510010091, 201604020015, 201607010267, 201512385434869, and 201707010034), and the Outstanding Youths Development Scheme of Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University (JQ201402).

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Correspondence to Yan-Wei Hu or Qian Wang.

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