Morán I, Akerman I, van de Bunt M, Xie R, Benazra M, Nammo T, Arnes L, Nakić N, García-Hurtado J, Rodríguez-Seguí S, Pasquali L, Sauty-Colace C, Beucher A, Scharfmann R, van Arensbergen J, Johnson PR, Berry A, Lee C, Harkins T, Gmyr V, Pattou F, Kerr-Cont
A significant portion of the genome is transcribed as long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), several of which are known to control gene expression. The repertoire and regulation of lncRNAs in disease-relevant tissues, however, has not been systematically explored. We report a comprehensive strand-specific transcriptome map of human pancreatic islets and β cells, and uncover >1100 intergenic and antisense islet-cell lncRNA genes. We find islet lncRNAs that are dynamically regulated and show that they are an integral component of the β cell differentiation and maturation program. We sequenced the mouse islet transcriptome and identify lncRNA orthologs that are regulated like their human counterparts. Depletion of HI-LNC25, a β cell-specific lncRNA, downregulated GLIS3 mRNA, thus exemplifying a gene regulatory function of islet lncRNAs. Finally, selected islet lncRNAs were dysregulated in type 2 diabetes or mapped to genetic loci underlying diabetes susceptibility. These findings reveal a new class of islet-cell genes relevant to β cell programming and diabetes pathophysiology.