Previous studies have indicated the important roles of ADAMTS5 in intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD). However, the mechanisms that regulate ADAMTS5 expression in nuclear pulposus (NP) cells remain largely unknown. Evidence suggests that intergenic transcription may be associated with genes that encode transcriptional regulators. Here, we identified a long intergenic noncoding RNA, linc-ADAMTS5, which was transcribed in the opposite direction to ADAMTS5. In the present study, through mining computational algorithm programs, and publicly available data sets, we identified Ras-responsive element-binding protein 1 (RREB1) as a crucial transcription factor regulating the expression of ADAMTS5 in NP cells. RNA pull-down, RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP), in vitro binding assays, and gain- and loss-of-function studies indicated that a physical interaction between linc-ADAMTS5 and splicing factor proline/glutamine-rich (SFPQ) facilitated the recruitment of RREB1 to binding sites within the ADAMTS5 promoter to induce chromatin remodeling. This resulted in subdued ADAMTS5 levels in cultured NP cells involving histone deacetylases (HDACs). In clinical NP tissues, linc-ADAMTS5 and RREB1 were correlated negatively with ADAMTS5 expression. Taken together, these results demonstrate that RREB1 cooperates with noncoding RNA linc-ADAMTS5 to inhibit ADAMTS5 expression, thereby affecting degeneration of the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the intervertebral disc (IVD).

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