Excessive erythrocytosis (EE) is a major hallmark of patients suffering from chronic mountain sickness (CMS, also known as Monge’s disease) and is responsible for major morbidity and even mortality in early adulthood. We took advantage of unique populations, one living at high altitude (Peru) showing EE, with another population, at the same altitude and region, showing no evidence of EE (non-CMS). Through RNA-Seq, we identified and validated the function of a group of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) that regulate erythropoiesis in Monge’s disease, but not in the non-CMS population. Among these lncRNAs is hypoxia induced kinase-mediated erythropoietic regulator (HIKER)/LINC02228, which we showed plays a critical role in erythropoiesis in CMS cells. Under hypoxia, HIKER modulated CSNK2B (the regulatory subunit of casein kinase 2). A downregulation of HIKER downregulated CSNK2B, remarkably reducing erythropoiesis; furthermore, an upregulation of CSNK2B on the background of HIKER downregulation rescued erythropoiesis defects. Pharmacologic inhibition of CSNK2B drastically reduced erythroid colonies, and knockdown of CSNK2B in zebrafish led to a defect in hemoglobinization. We conclude that HIKER regulates erythropoiesis in Monge’s disease and acts through at least one specific target, CSNK2B, a casein kinase.
Priti Azad, Dan Zhou, Hung-Chi Tu, Francisco C. Villafuerte, David Traver, Tariq M. Rana, Gabriel G. Haddad
Schematic illustration of the experimental strategy and summary of RNA-Seq results.