J Neuroinflammation. 2020 Oct 25;17(1):320.doi:10.1186/s12974-020-01970-7.

Knockdown of long non-coding RNA SOX2OT downregulates SOX2 to improve hippocampal neurogenesis and cognitive function in a mouse model of sepsis-associated encephalopathy

Jialin Yin  1 Yanan Shen  1 Yanna Si  2 Yuan Zhang  1 Jiayue Du  1 Xiajuan Hu  1 Mengmeng Cai  1 Hongguang Bao  1 Yan Xing  3 Affiliations

Free PMC article


Background: Aberrant hippocampal neurogenesis is an important pathological feature of sepsis-associated encephalopathy. In the current study, we examined the potential role of the long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) sex-determining region Y-box 2 (SOX2) overlapping transcript (SOX2OT), a known regulator of adult neurogenesis in sepsis-induced deficits in hippocampal neurogenesis and cognitive function.

Methods: Sepsis was induced in adult C57BL/6 J male mice by cecal ligation and perforation (CLP) surgery. Randomly selected CLP mice were transfected with short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) against SOX2OT or SOX2, or with scrambled control siRNA. Cognitive behavior was tested 8-12 days post-surgery using a Morris water maze. Western blotting and RT-qPCR were used to determine expression of SOX2, Ki67, doublecortin (DCX), nestin, brain lipid-binding protein, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in the hippocampus. The number of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)+/DCX+ cells, BrdU+/neuronal nuclei (NeuN)+ neurons, and BrdU+/GFAP+ glial cells in the dentate gyrus were assessed by immunofluorescence.

Results: CLP mice showed progressive increases in SOX2OT and SOX2 mRNA levels on days 3, 7, and 14 after CLP surgery, accompanied by impaired cognitive function. Sepsis led to decrease in all neuronal markers in the hippocampus, except GFAP. Immunofluorescence confirmed the decreased numbers of BrdU+/DCX+ cells and BrdU+/NeuN+ neurons, and increased numbers of BrdU+/GFAP+ cells. SOX2OT knockdown partially inhibited the effects of CLP on levels of SOX2 and neuronal markers, neuronal populations in the hippocampus, and cognitive function. SOX2 deficiency recapitulated the effects of SOX2OT knockdown.

Conclusion: SOX2OT knockdown improves sepsis-induced deficits in hippocampal neurogenesis and cognitive function by downregulating SOX2 in mice. Inhibiting SOX2OT/SOX2 signaling may be effective for treating or preventing neurodegeneration in sepsis-associated encephalopathy.

Keywords: Cognitive dysfunction; Hippocampal neurogenesis; SOX2; SOX2OT; Sepsis-associated encephalopathy.