There is little insight into whether and how lncRNAs effect human vascular cell phenotypes. Now, researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry have performed RNA sequencing in human coronary artery smooth muscle cells and discovered a novel lncRNA called SENCR. SENCR is most abundant in vascular smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells. SENCR is a low copy, cytoplasmic lncRNA whose knockdown results in reduced expression of vascular smooth muscle contractile genes. On the other hand, many migratory genes are elevated upon SENCR knockdown. Accordingly, human smooth muscle cells with reduced SENCR show hypermotility in vitro, a phenotype that is completely rescued with simultaneous knockdown of either of two pro-migratory genes (MDK, PTN). Consistent with its cytoplasmic localization, knockdown of SENCR has little cis-acting effect on neighboring gene expression. SENCR is one of the first 5′ overlapping antisense lncRNAs to be studied in detail.
- Bell RD, Long X, Lin M, Bergmann JH, Nanda V, Cowan SL, Zhou Q, Han Y, Spector DL, Zheng D, Miano JM. (2014) Identification and Initial Functional Characterization of a Human Vascular Cell-Enriched Long Noncoding RNA. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]