lincRNA-Cox2 Functions to Regulate Inflammation in Alveolar Macrophages during Acute Lung Injury.

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Public Summary:
This study investigates the immune response of the respiratory system.
Scientific Abstract:
Our respiratory system is vital to protect us from the surrounding nonsterile environment; therefore, it is critical for a state of homeostasis to be maintained through a balance of inflammatory cues. Recent studies have shown that actively transcribed noncoding regions of the genome are emerging as key regulators of biological processes, including inflammation. lincRNA-Cox2 is one such example of an inflammatory inducible long intergenic noncoding RNA functioning to fine-tune immune gene expression. Using bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing, in addition to FACS, we find that lincRNA-Cox2 is most highly expressed in the lung and is most upregulated after LPS-induced lung injury (acute lung injury [ALI]) within alveolar macrophages, where it functions to regulate inflammation. We previously reported that lincRNA-Cox2 functions to regulate its neighboring protein Ptgs2 in cis, and in this study, we use genetic mouse models to confirm its role in regulating gene expression more broadly in trans during ALI. Il6, Ccl3, and Ccl5 are dysregulated in the lincRNA-Cox2-deficient mice and can be rescued to wild type levels by crossing the deficient mice with our newly generated lincRNA-Cox2 transgenic mice, confirming that this gene functions in trans. Many genes are specifically regulated by lincRNA-Cox2 within alveolar macrophages originating from the bone marrow because the phenotype can be reversed by transplantation of wild type bone marrow into the lincRNA-Cox2-deficient mice. In conclusion, we show that lincRNA-Cox2 is a trans-acting long noncoding RNA that functions to regulate immune responses and maintain homeostasis within the lung at baseline and on LPS-induced ALI.