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OBJECTIVE: Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are an emergent class of molecules with diverse functional roles, widely expressed in human physiology and disease. Although some lncRNAs have been identified in cardiovascular disease, their potential as novel targets in the prevention of atherosclerosis is unknown. We set out to discover important lncRNAs in unstable plaque and gain insight into their functional relevance. Approach and Results: Analysis of RNA sequencing previously performed on stable and unstable atherosclerotic plaque identified a panel of 47 differentially regulated lncRNAs. We focused on LINC01272, a lncRNA upregulated in unstable plaque previously detected in inflammatory bowel disease, which we termed PELATON (plaque enriched lncRNA in atherosclerotic and inflammatory bowel macrophage regulation). Here, we demonstrate that PELATON is highly monocyte- and macrophage-specific across vascular cell types, and almost entirely nuclear by cellular fractionation (90%-98%). In situ hybridization confirmed enrichment of PELATON in areas of plaque inflammation, colocalizing with macrophages around the shoulders and necrotic core of human plaque sections. Consistent with its nuclear localization, and despite containing a predicted open reading frame, PELATON did not demonstrate any protein-coding potential in vitro. Functionally, knockdown of PELATON significantly reduced phagocytosis, lipid uptake and reactive oxygen species production in high-content analysis, with a significant reduction in phagocytosis independently validated. Furthermore, CD36, a key mediator of phagocytic oxLDL (oxidized low-density lipoprotein) uptake was significantly reduced with PELATON knockdown. CONCLUSIONS: PELATON is a nuclear expressed, monocyte- and macrophage-specific lncRNA, upregulated in unstable atherosclerotic plaque. Knockdown of PELATON affects cellular functions associated with plaque progression.

Original publication




Journal article


Arterioscler thromb vasc biol

Publication Date





697 - 713


atherosclerosis, macrophage, monocyte, phagocytosis, reactive oxygen species, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, CD36 Antigens, Carotid Arteries, Carotid Artery Diseases, Cells, Cultured, Female, Humans, Inflammation, Lipid Metabolism, Macrophages, Male, Necrosis, Phagocytosis, Plaque, Atherosclerotic, RNA, Long Noncoding, Reactive Oxygen Species, Rupture, Spontaneous