The regulatory roles of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in transcriptional coactivators are still largely unknown. Here, we have shown that the peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ (PPARγ) coactivator α (PGC-1α, encoded by Ppargc1a) is functionally regulated by the lncRNA taurine-upregulated gene 1 (Tug1). Further, we have described a role for Tug1 in the regulation of mitochondrial function in podocytes. Using a murine model of diabetic nephropathy (DN), we performed an unbiased RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis of kidney glomeruli and identified Tug1 as a differentially expressed lncRNA in the diabetic milieu. Podocyte-specific overexpression (OE) of Tug1 in diabetic mice improved the biochemical and histological features associated with DN. Unexpectedly, we found that Tug1 OE rescued the expression of PGC-1α and its transcriptional targets. Tug1 OE was also associated with improvements in mitochondrial bioenergetics in the podocytes of diabetic mice. Mechanistically, we found that the interaction between Tug1 and PGC-1α promotes the binding of PGC-1α to its own promoter. We identified a Tug1-binding element (TBE) upstream of the Ppargc1a gene and showed that Tug1 binds with the TBE to enhance Ppargc1a promoter activity. These findings indicate that a direct interaction between PGC-1α and Tug1 modulates mitochondrial bioenergetics in podocytes in the diabetic milieu.


Jianyin Long, Shawn S. Badal, Zengchun Ye, Yin Wang, Bernard A. Ayanga, Daniel L. Galvan, Nathanael H. Green, Benny H. Chang, Paul A. Overbeek, Farhad R. Danesh


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