Long noncoding RNA LEENE promotes angiogenesis and ischemic recovery in diabetes models

Xiaofang Tang, Yingjun Luo, Dongqiang Yuan, Riccardo Calandrelli, Naseeb Kaur Malhi, Kiran Sriram, Yifei Miao, Chih Hong Lou, Walter Tsark, Alonso Tapia, Aleysha T. Chen, Guangyu Zhang, Daniel Roeth, Markus Kalkum, Zhao V. Wang, Shu Chien, Rama Natarajan, John P. Cooke, Sheng Zhong, Zhen Bouman Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Impaired angiogenesis in diabetes is a key process contributing to ischemic diseases such as peripheral arterial disease. Epigenetic mechanisms, including those mediated by long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), are crucial links connecting diabetes and the related chronic tissue ischemia. Here we identify the lncRNA that enhances endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) expression (LEENE) as a regulator of angiogenesis and ischemic response. LEENE expression was decreased in diabetic conditions in cultured endothelial cells (ECs), mouse hind limb muscles, and human arteries. Inhibition of LEENE in human microvascular ECs reduced their angiogenic capacity with a dysregulated angiogenic gene program. Diabetic mice deficient in Leene demonstrated impaired angiogenesis and perfusion following hind limb ischemia. Importantly, overexpression of human LEENE rescued the impaired ischemic response in Leene-knockout mice at tissue functional and single-cell transcriptomic levels. Mechanistically, LEENE RNA promoted transcription of proangiogenic genes in ECs, such as KDR (encoding VEGFR2) and NOS3 (encoding eNOS), potentially by interacting with LEO1, a key component of the RNA polymerase II–associated factor complex and MYC, a crucial transcription factor for angiogenesis. Taken together, our findings demonstrate an essential role for LEENE in the regulation of angiogenesis and tissue perfusion. Functional enhancement of LEENE to restore angiogenesis for tissue repair and regeneration may represent a potential strategy to tackle ischemic vascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere161759
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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