The splicing-regulatory lncRNA NTRAS sustains vascular integrity

Youssef Fouani, Luisa Kirchhof, Laura Stanicek, Guillermo Luxán, Andreas W. Heumüller, Andrea Knau, Ariane Fischer, Kavi Devraj, David John, Philipp Neumann, Albrecht Bindereif, Reinier A. Boon, Stefan Liebner, Ilka Wittig, Carolin Mogler, Madina Karimova, Stefanie Dimmeler, Nicolas Jaé

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Vascular integrity is essential for organ homeostasis to prevent edema formation and infiltration of inflammatory cells. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are important regulators of gene expression and often expressed in a cell type-specific manner. By screening for endothelial-enriched lncRNAs, we identified the undescribed lncRNA NTRAS to control endothelial cell functions. Silencing of NTRAS induces endothelial cell dysfunction in vitro and increases vascular permeability and lethality in mice. Biochemical analysis revealed that NTRAS, through its CA-dinucleotide repeat motif, sequesters the splicing regulator hnRNPL to control alternative splicing of tight junction protein 1 (TJP1; also named zona occludens 1, ZO-1) pre-mRNA. Deletion of the hnRNPL binding motif in mice (Ntras∆CA/∆CA) significantly repressed TJP1 exon 20 usage, favoring expression of the TJP1α- isoform, which augments permeability of the endothelial monolayer. Ntras∆CA/∆CA mice further showed reduced retinal vessel growth and increased vascular permeability and myocarditis. In summary, this study demonstrates that NTRAS is an essential gatekeeper of vascular integrity.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54157
JournalEMBO reports
Issue number6
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2022


  • alternative splicing
  • long non-coding RNA
  • tight junctions
  • vascular integrity

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