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Systematic analysis of lncRNA expression profiles and atherosclerosis-associated lncRNA-mRNA network revealing functional lncRNAs in carotid atherosclerotic rabbit models

Yingnan Wu, Feng Zhang, Xiaoying Li, Wenying Hou, Shuang Zhang, Yanan Feng, Rui Lu, Yu Ding, Litao Sun
Functional & integrative genomics 2020 v.20 no.1 pp. 103-115
T-lymphocytes, animal models, atherosclerosis, carotid arteries, high fat diet, messenger RNA, microRNA, rabbits, response elements, sequence analysis, signal transduction, topology
Atherosclerosis, a multifactorial and chronic immune inflammatory disorder, is the main cause of multiple cardiovascular diseases. Researchers recently reported that lncRNAs may exert important functions in the progression of atherosclerosis (AS). Some studies found that lncRNAs can act as ceRNAs to communicate with each other by the competition of common miRNA response elements. However, lncRNA-associated ceRNA network in terms of atherosclerosis is limited. In present study, we pioneered to construct and systematically analyze the lncRNA-mRNA network and reveal its potential roles in carotid atherosclerotic rabbit models. Atherosclerosis was induced in rabbits (n = 3) carotid arteries via a high-fat diet and balloon injury, while age-matched rabbits (n = 3) were treated with normal chow as controls. RNA-seq analysis was conducted on rabbits carotid arteries (n = 6) with or without plaque formation. Based on the ceRNA mechanism, a ternary interaction network including lncRNA, mRNA, and miRNA was generated and an AS-related lncRNA-mRNA network (ASLMN) was extracted. Furthermore, we analyzed the properties of ASLMN and discovered that six lncRNAs (MSTRG.10603.16, 5258.4, 12799.3, 5352.1, 12022.1, and 12250.4) were highly related to AS through topological analysis. GO and KEGG enrichment analysis indicated that lncRNA MSTRG.5258.4 may downregulate inducible co-stimulator to perform a downregulated role in AS through T cell receptor signaling pathway and downregulate THBS1 to conduct a upregulated function in AS through ECM-receptor interaction pathway. Finally, our results elucidated the important function of lncRNAs in the origination and progression of AS. We provided an ASLMN of atherosclerosis development in carotid arteries of rabbits and probable targets which may lay the foundation for future research of clinical applications.