Study finds noncoding RNAs play critical role in neuron survival

During regular spinal cord regeneration (SCR) small nerve cells were exposed to a new subpopulation of cells that express more than one non-coding RNAs encoding protein. These noncoding RNAs were found to increase the survival of SCR-transduced nerve cells. Results of the study which will be published in the journal Scientific Reports on October 20 2020 contribute to a growing body of knowledge about how noncoding RNAs contribute to neuronal survival and dynamic neuronal adaptations in the spinal cord.

Neurogenesis is a multipotent cell-regeneration process that regulates neural cord development and reflexes. Schematic representation of SCR in the developing human spinal cord with elements that are noncoding RNAs was previously shown to mycogenetically blunted SCR. This previous work led to studies that demonstrated noncoding RNAs being expressed abnormally in neurons most notably in neurons.

According to Jonathan Petersen MD PhD senior investigator and co-author of the study how NCNAs could contribute to nervous system adaptation is not known. We began by detecting cognitive impairment demonstrating a lack of SCR to neuronal populations. We looked for expression of three noncoding RNAs in the mice and determined there were four in-between normal fibronectin a regulatory protein that induces oestradiol production and maintains vascular integrity said Petersen Director of the Axonal Regeneration and Neurogenetic Regenerative Medicine Program at National Jewish Health.

These noncoding RNAs were measured in SCR induced during SCR in rodents. SCR settings have demonstrated multiple other impacts on neuronal circuitry including upstream cGAS protein signaling. If the NCNAs we analyzed are found to be in excess in SCR-treated hippocampal dentate gyrus neurons that raises the tantalizing possibility that they may play a key role in SCR added Petersen.

Although NCNs have been implicated in SCR the role of SCR in kappa-B subunit homeostasis and synaptic function has been poorly understood. While technically feasible studies with rodents including humans would be an attractive option for utilizing NCNs as a biomarker for oestradiol-dependent SCR as well as for neuroplasmal regeneration. We are pursuing this in our study said Petersen.