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Nature. 2014 Oct 2;514(7520):102-106. doi: 10.1038/nature13596. Epub 2014 Aug 10.

A long noncoding RNA protects the heart from pathological hypertrophy.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cardiovascular Institute, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305.
Krannert Institute of Cardiology and Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine.
Stanford Genome Technology Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305.
Department of Genetics, Pediatrics, and Medicine (Cardiology), Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, 1301 Morris Park Avenue, Price Center 420, Bronx, NY 10461.
Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305.
Del E. Webb Neuroscience, Aging & Stem Cell Research Center, Sanford/Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.
Contributed equally


The role of long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) in adult hearts is unknown; also unclear is how lncRNA modulates nucleosome remodelling. An estimated 70% of mouse genes undergo antisense transcription, including myosin heavy chain 7 (Myh7), which encodes molecular motor proteins for heart contraction. Here we identify a cluster of lncRNA transcripts from Myh7 loci and demonstrate a new lncRNA-chromatin mechanism for heart failure. In mice, these transcripts, which we named myosin heavy-chain-associated RNA transcripts (Myheart, or Mhrt), are cardiac-specific and abundant in adult hearts. Pathological stress activates the Brg1-Hdac-Parp chromatin repressor complex to inhibit Mhrt transcription in the heart. Such stress-induced Mhrt repression is essential for cardiomyopathy to develop: restoring Mhrt to the pre-stress level protects the heart from hypertrophy and failure. Mhrt antagonizes the function of Brg1, a chromatin-remodelling factor that is activated by stress to trigger aberrant gene expression and cardiac myopathy. Mhrt prevents Brg1 from recognizing its genomic DNA targets, thus inhibiting chromatin targeting and gene regulation by Brg1. It does so by binding to the helicase domain of Brg1, a domain that is crucial for tethering Brg1 to chromatinized DNA targets. Brg1 helicase has dual nucleic-acid-binding specificities: it is capable of binding lncRNA (Mhrt) and chromatinized--but not naked--DNA. This dual-binding feature of helicase enables a competitive inhibition mechanism by which Mhrt sequesters Brg1 from its genomic DNA targets to prevent chromatin remodelling. A Mhrt-Brg1 feedback circuit is thus crucial for heart function. Human MHRT also originates from MYH7 loci and is repressed in various types of myopathic hearts, suggesting a conserved lncRNA mechanism in human cardiomyopathy. Our studies identify a cardioprotective lncRNA, define a new targeting mechanism for ATP-dependent chromatin-remodelling factors, and establish a new paradigm for lncRNA-chromatin interaction.

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