The EMBO Journal, 30 January, 2023, DOI：https://doi.org/10.15252/embj.2022112039
Noncoding RNA circBtnl1 suppresses self-renewal of intestinal stem cells via disruption of Atf4 mRNA stability
Hui Guo, Jiahang Zhang, Zhimin Jiang, Xiaoxiao Zhu, Jing Yang, Rui Mu, Ying Du, Yong Tian, Pingping Zhu, Zusen Fan
Intestinal stem cells (ISCs) at the crypt base are responsible for the regeneration of the intestinal epithelium. However, how ISC self-renewal is regulated still remains unclear. Here we identified a circular RNA, circBtnl1, that is highly expressed in ISCs. Loss of circBtnl1 in mice enhanced ISC self-renewal capacity and epithelial regeneration, without changes in mRNA and protein levels of its parental gene Btnl1. Mechanistically, circBtnl1 and Atf4 mRNA competitively bound the ATP-dependent RNA helicase Ddx3y to impair the stability of Atf4 mRNA in wild-type ISCs. Furthermore, ATF4 activated Sox9 transcription by binding to its promoter via a unique motif, to enhance the self-renewal capacity and epithelial regeneration of ISCs. In contrast, circBtnl1 knockout promoted Atf4 mRNA stability and enhanced ATF4 expression, which caused Sox9 transcription to potentiate ISC stemness. These data indicate that circBtnl1-mediated Atf4 mRNA decay suppresses Sox9 transcription that negatively modulates self-renewal maintenance of ISCs.