RNAs and RNA-Binding Proteins in Immuno-Metabolic Homeostasis and Diseases

Esam S.B. Salem, Andrew D. Vonberg, Vishnupriya J. Borra, Rupinder K. Gill, Takahisa Nakamura

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing prevalence of worldwide obesity has emerged as a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes (T2D), hepatosteatosis, and cardiovascular disease. Accumulating evidence indicates that obesity has strong inflammatory underpinnings tightly linked to the development of metabolic diseases. However, the molecular mechanisms by which obesity induces aberrant inflammation associated with metabolic diseases are not yet clearly defined. Recently, RNAs have emerged as important regulators of stress responses and metabolism. RNAs are subject to changes in modification status, higher-order structure, and cellular localization; all of which could affect the affinity for RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and thereby modify the RNA-RBP networks. Proper regulation and management of RNA characteristics are fundamental to cellular and organismal homeostasis, as well as paramount to health. Identification of multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within loci of fat mass- and obesity-associated protein (FTO) gene, an RNA demethylase, through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of T2D, and functional assessments of FTO in mice, support the concept that disruption in RNA modifications leads to the development of human diseases including obesity and metabolic disorder. In obesity, dynamic alterations in modification and localization of RNAs appear to modulate the RNA-RBP networks and activate proinflammatory RBPs, such as double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-dependent protein kinase (PKR), Toll-like receptor (TLR) 3 and TLR7, and RNA silencing machinery. These changes induce aberrant inflammation and the development of metabolic diseases. This review will describe the current understanding of the underlying causes of these common and altered characteristics of RNA-RBP networks which will pave the way for developing novel approaches to tackle the pandemic issue of obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106
JournalFrontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 20


  • Ago2
  • CCR4-NOT complex
  • obesity
  • PKR
  • RNA methylation
  • RNA silencing
  • snoRNA
  • TRBP


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