Nuclear Genome-Encoded Long Noncoding RNAs and Mitochondrial Damage in Diabetic Retinopathy

. 2021 Nov 23;10(12):3271.

doi: 10.3390/cells10123271.


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Ghulam Mohammad et al.




Retinal mitochondria are damaged in diabetes-accelerating apoptosis of capillary cells, and ultimately, leading to degenerative capillaries. Diabetes also upregulates many long noncoding RNAs (LncRNAs), including LncMALAT1 and LncNEAT1. These RNAs have more than 200 nucleotides and no open reading frame for translation. LncMALAT1 and LncNEAT1 are encoded by nuclear genome, but nuclear-encoded LncRNAs can also translocate in the mitochondria. Our aim was to investigate the role of LncMALAT1 and LncNEAT1 in mitochondrial homeostasis. Using human retinal endothelial cells, the effect of high glucose on LncMALAT1 and LncNEAT1 mitochondrial localization was examined by RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization. The role of these LncRNAs in mitochondrial membrane potential (by JC-I staining), mtDNA integrity (by extended length PCR) and in protective mtDNA nucleoids (by SYBR green staining) was examined in MALAT1- or NEAT1-siRNA transfected cells. High glucose increased LncMALAT1 and LncNEAT1 mitochondrial expression, and MALAT1-siRNA or NEAT1-siRNA ameliorated glucose-induced damage to mitochondrial membrane potential and mtDNA, and prevented decrease in mtDNA nucleoids. Thus, increased mitochondrial translocation of LncMALAT1 or LncNEAT1 in a hyperglycemic milieu plays a major role in damaging the mitochondrial structural and genomic integrity. Regulation of these LncRNAs can protect mitochondrial homeostasis, and ameliorate formation of degenerative capillaries in diabetic retinopathy.


diabetic retinopathy; long noncoding RNA; mitochondria.

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