Cardiolinc is a network of groups interested in the role of long non-coding RNA in cardiovascular disease

 

Our Mission

To understand the role of long non-coding RNA in cardiovascular disease and engage in collaborative research.

Our vision

Realize the full potential of translational research by fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and public-private partnerships to drive development and growth of personalized medicine in cardiovascular disease.

 

By the numbers

61 members | 56 institutions | 20 countries | 13 partners | 6+ ongoing collaborative projects | 100+ research publications since 2013

 

History

Cardiolinc was founded in 2014 by biologist Dr. Yvan Devaux on the belief that long non-coding RNA research in cardiovascular disease could move faster by collaboration. Thus, Cardiolinc serves as a platform to provide opportunities for scientific collaboration, where coordinating efforts from different groups will maximize the potential of research in this developing field. Cardiolinc also focus on the practical applications of such knowledge to improve health by transferring of basic science into usable tools for prognostics, diagnostics and treatment of cardiovascular patients.

What is long non-coding RNA?

Despite its sequencing more than 10 years ago, the human genome is still incompletely characterized. More than half of the genes have unknown functions. In fact, only 2% of our genes trigger the production of proteins, while the vast majority is expressed (that is, produce RNA), but not necessarily encode proteins, which are the building blocks of cells and are central in biochemical reactions. This category of genes is called non-coding genes and the RNA they produce are non-coding RNA.

RNA molecules come in different sizes and types and can play many important functions in the cells. Non-coding RNA is one of such types, for which a major role is regulating how genes are expressed, that is, how they are turned on and off. Non-coding RNAs comprise a heterogeneous group of both short and long RNAs. So far, the most studied class is a very small RNA molecule, called microRNA (miRNA), followed by its longer cousin, long non-coding RNA (lncRNA).

The class of lncRNA is vast and fairly diverse and it refers to RNAs above 200 nucleotides long that seemingly don’t encode proteins. Thousands of human lncRNAs have been found, but their role is still obscure for most. Although few lncRNAs have been thoroughly studied with their function and mechanism of action well described, there is increasing evidence that these molecules play key roles in several biological processes. One example is Xist, which is involved in the inactivation of the X chromosome in females, a fundamental process to prevent them to have double the copies of gene products than males.  It’s important to understand what are the roles of lncRNAs, not only to know how our genome works, but also the mechanisms of diseases so we can find more efficient ways to manage them.

Cardiovascular disease and long non-coding RNAs

LncRNAs can be found in different organs as well as circulating in the blood. Furthermore, they may be expressed in a very specific manner, particularly in relation to disease states. For example, some lncRNAs are enriched in the heart, others in the brain, while others in the liver. Several lncRNAs are dysregulated in many diseases. Such specificity suggests they play important role in regulating gene expression and may shed light to treat these diseases.

In the last few years different studies have demonstrated the importance of lncRNAs for cardiac development and cell differentiation and several lncRNAs have been implicated in cardiovascular diseases. 

We are just beginning to understand how lncRNAs influence cardiovascular disease, where they present dysregulated expression in heart failure, hypertension and coronary artery disease (CAD), including atherosclerosis, ischemia and myocardial infarction. Such changes in expression have been shown in both humans and rodent models, with some studies presenting encouraging results for disease prognosis and therapy.