Abstract

Tendon-derived stem cells (TSCs) play a primary role in tendon physiology, pathology, as well as tendon repair and regeneration after injury. TSCs are often exposed to mechanical loading-related cellular stresses such as oxidative stress, resulting in loss of stemness and multipotent differentiation potential. Cytoprotective autophagy has previously been identified as an important mechanism to protect human TSCs (hTSCs) from oxidative stress induced impairments. In this study, we found that high-mobility AT-hook 2 (HMGA2) overexpression protects hTSCs against H2O2-induced loss of stemness through autophagy activation. Evidentially, H2O2 treatment increases the expression of Nudt21, a protein critical to polyadenylation site selection in alternative polyadenylation (APA) of mRNA transcripts. This leads to increased cleavage and polyadenylation of HMGA2 3′-UTR at the distal site, resulting in increased HMGA2 silencing by the microRNA let-7 and reduced HMGA2 expression. In conclusion, Nudt21-regulated APA of HMGA2 3′-UTR and subsequent HMGA2 downregulation mediates oxidative stress induced hTSC impairments.