Cell Death Dis. 2023 Feb 15;14(2):126. doi: 10.1038/s41419-023-05617-2.
As a common pathology of many ocular disorders such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, retinal ischemia/reperfusion (IR) triggers inflammation and microglia activation that lead to irreversible retinal damage. The detailed molecular mechanism underlying retinal IR injury, however, remains poorly understood at present. Here we report the bioinformatic identification of a lncRNA 1810058I24Rik (181-Rik) that was shown to encode a mitochondrion-located micropeptide Stmp1. Its deficiency in mice protected retinal ganglion cells from retinal IR injury by attenuating the activation of microglia and the Nlrp3 inflammasome pathway. Moreover, its genetic knockout in mice or knockdown in primary microglia promoted mitochondrial fusion, impaired mitochondrial membrane potential, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, diminished aerobic glycolysis, and ameliorated inflammation. It appears that 181-Rik may trigger the Nlrp3 inflammasome activation by controlling mitochondrial functions through inhibiting expression of the metabolic sensor uncoupling protein 2 (Ucp2) and activating expression of the Ca2+ sensors S100a8/a9. Together, our findings shed new light on the molecular pathogenesis of retinal IR injury and may provide a fresh therapeutic target for IR-associated neurodegenerative diseases.