Immunology and Microbiology
Department of Medicine
First Thesis Advisor
Dr. Katherine Fitzgerald
Innate Immunology, lncRNAs
The onset of immune response against microbial stimuli activates induction of many anti- inflammatory genes and ISGs for effective clearance of the pathogen. This response includes transcriptional activation of several non-coding transcripts such as miRNAs and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). LncRNAs constitutes the largest class of non-coding genome and are arbitrarily described as transcripts greater than 200 base pairs. Similar to protein coding mRNAs, lncRNAs are RNA polymerase II transcripts and undergo mRNA processing such as capping, splicing and polyadenylation. In recent years, high throughput sequencing has enabled an in-depth exploration of the human genome and subsequent discovery of lncRNAs. Several studies have highlighted the crucial role of lncRNAs in many biological processes including as regulators of gene expression as well as molecular effectors of host-pathogen driven immune responses. To date, majority of lncRNAs have been studied in murine models with limited understanding in human cells. In order to elucidate the role of lncRNAs in human immune cell regulation, the goal of this thesis is to identify and characterize novel lncRNAs critical to host-pathogen innate immune responses. RNA sequencing in LPS, IAV and HSV stimulated cells revealed lncRNA LUCAT1 as most differentially regulated lncRNA. CRISPR-cas9 and shRNA mediated depletion of LUCAT1 showed enhanced IFN-I genes signature, which was suppressed upon overexpression of LUCAT1. Additionally, LPS stimulated hDCs showed enrichment of LUCAT1 in the nucleus and its association with the chromatin markers. Further, LUCAT1 depletion contributed to enhanced occupancy of transcriptional coactivators at the promoters of IFN-I genes. Global identification of RNA associated proteins revealed LUCAT1 association with STAT1 in the nucleus thus emphasizing its role in transcriptional regulation of Type I IFN genes in inflammatory responses. This thesis furthers the understanding about the molecular factors affecting immune regulation and describes the novel role of LUCAT1 as an attenuator of immune cell response to pathogens.
Agarwal S. (2020). Identification and characterization of novel non-coding regulators of innate immune responses in human cells. GSBS Dissertations and Theses. https://doi.org/10.13028/tc8v-a180. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/gsbs_diss/1083
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Available for download on Thursday, May 27, 2021