Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) are critical to synovial aggression and joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The role of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in RA is largely unknown. Here, we identified a lncRNA, LERFS (lowly expressed in rheumatoid fibroblast-like synoviocytes), that negatively regulates the migration, invasion, and proliferation of FLSs through interaction with heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein Q (hnRNP Q). Under healthy conditions, by binding to the mRNA of RhoA, Rac1, and CDC42 — the small GTPase proteins that control the motility and proliferation of FLSs — the LERFS–hnRNP Q complex decreased the stability or translation of target mRNAs and downregulated their protein levels. But in RA FLSs, decreased LERFS levels induced a reduction of the LERFS–hnRNP Q complex, which reduced the binding of hnRNP Q to target mRNA and therefore increased the stability or translation of target mRNA. These findings suggest that a decrease in synovial LERFS may contribute to synovial aggression and joint destruction in RA and that targeting the lncRNA LERFS may have therapeutic potential in patients with RA.


Yaoyao Zou, Siqi Xu, Youjun Xiao, Qian Qiu, Maohua Shi, Jingnan Wang, Liuqin Liang, Zhongping Zhan, Xiuyan Yang, Nancy Olsen, Song Guo Zheng, Hanshi Xu


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