Allele-specific control of rodent and human lncRNA KMT2E-AS1 promotes hypoxic endothelial pathology in pulmonary hypertension

Tai YY, Yu Q, Tang Y, Sun W, Kelly NJ, Okawa S, Zhao J, Schwantes-An TH, Lacoux C, Torrino S, Aaraj YA, Khoury WE, Negi V, Liu M, Corey CG, Belmonte F, Vargas SO, Schwartz B, Bhat B, Chau BN, Karnes JH, Satoh T, Barndt RJ, Wu H, Parikh VN, Wang J, Zhang Y, McNamara D, Li G, Speyer G, Wang B, Shiva S, Kaufman B, Kim S, Gomez D, Mari B, Cho MH, Boueiz A, Pauciulo MW, Southgate L, Trembath RC, Sitbon O, Humbert M, Graf S, Morrell NW, Rhodes CJ, Wilkins MR, Nouraie M, Nichols WC, Desai AA, Bertero T & Chan SY 2024.


Hypoxic reprogramming of vasculature relies on genetic, epigenetic, and metabolic circuitry, but the control points are unknown. In pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a disease driven by hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)–dependent vascular dysfunction, HIF-2α promoted expression of neighboring genes, long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) histone lysine N-methyltransferase 2E-antisense 1 (KMT2E-AS1) and histone lysine N-methyltransferase 2E (KMT2E). KMT2E-AS1 stabilized KMT2E protein to increase epigenetic histone 3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3), driving HIF-2α–dependent metabolic and pathogenic endothelial activity. This lncRNA axis also increased HIF-2α expression across epigenetic, transcriptional, and posttranscriptional contexts, thus promoting a positive feedback loop to further augment HIF-2α activity. We identified a genetic association between rs73184087, a single-nucleotide variant (SNV) within a KMT2E intron, and disease risk in PAH discovery and replication patient cohorts and in a global meta-analysis. This SNV displayed allele (G)–specific association with HIF-2α, engaged in long-range chromatin interactions, and induced the lncRNA-KMT2E tandem in hypoxic (G/G) cells. In vivo, KMT2E-AS1 deficiency protected against PAH in mice, as did pharmacologic inhibition of histone methylation in rats. Conversely, forced lncRNA expression promoted more severe PH. Thus, the KMT2E-AS1/KMT2E pair orchestrates across convergent multi-ome landscapes to mediate HIF-2α pathobiology and represents a key clinical target in pulmonary hypertension.