Drosophila let-7 microRNA is required for remodeling of the neuromusculature during metamorphosis.
ABSTRACT: The Drosophila let-7-Complex (let-7-C) is a polycistronic locus encoding three ancient microRNAs: let-7, miR-100, and fly lin-4 (miR-125). We find that the let-7-C locus is principally expressed in the pupal and adult neuromusculature. let-7-C knockout flies appear normal externally but display defects in adult behaviors (e.g., flight, motility, and fertility) as well as clear juvenile features in their neuromusculature. We find that the function of let-7-C to ensure the appropriate remodeling of the abdominal neuromusculature during the larval-to-adult transition is carried out predominantly by let-7 alone. This heterochronic role of let-7 is likely just one of the ways in which let-7-C promotes adult behavior.
Project description:In C. elegans, heterochronic genes control the timing of cell fate determination during development. Two heterochronic genes, let-7 and lin-4, encode microRNAs (miRNAs) that down-regulate a third heterochronic gene lin-41 by binding to complementary sites in its 3'UTR. let-7 and lin-4 are conserved in mammals. Here we report the cloning and sequencing of mammalian lin-41 orthologs. We find that mouse and human lin-41 genes contain predicted conserved complementary sites for let-7 and the lin-4 ortholog, mir-125, in their 3'UTRs. Mouse lin-41 (Mlin-41) is temporally expressed in developing mouse embryos, most dramatically in the limb buds. Mlin-41 is down-regulated during mid-embryogenesis at the time when mouse let-7c and mir-125 RNA levels are up-regulated. Our results suggest that mammalian lin-41 is temporally regulated by miRNAs in order to direct key developmental events such as limb formation.
Project description:The microRNA let-7 is a critical regulator of developmental timing events at the larval-to-adult transition in C. elegans. Recently, microRNAs with sequence similarity to let-7 have been identified. We find that doubly mutant animals lacking the let-7 family microRNA genes mir-48 and mir-84 exhibit retarded molting behavior and retarded adult gene expression in the hypodermis. Triply mutant animals lacking mir-48, mir-84, and mir-241 exhibit repetition of L2-stage events in addition to retarded adult-stage events. mir-48, mir-84, and mir-241 function together to control the L2-to-L3 transition, likely by base pairing to complementary sites in the hbl-1 3' UTR and downregulating hbl-1 activity. Genetic analysis indicates that mir-48, mir-84, and mir-241 specify the timing of the L2-to-L3 transition in parallel to the heterochronic genes lin-28 and lin-46. These results indicate that let-7 family microRNAs function in combination to affect both early and late developmental timing decisions.
Project description:The Caenorhabditis elegans heterochronic gene pathway, which consists of a set of regulatory genes, plays an important regulatory role in the timing of stage-specific cell lineage development in nematodes. Research into the heterochronic gene pathway gave rise to landmark microRNA (miRNA) studies and showed that these genes are important in stem cell and cancer biology; however, their functions in vertebrate development are largely unknown. To elucidate the function of the heterochronic gene pathway during vertebrate development, we cloned the zebrafish homologs of the C. elegans let-7 miRNA-binding protein, Lin-28, and analyzed their function in zebrafish development. The zebrafish genome contains two Lin28-related genes, lin-28a and lin-28b. Similar to mammalian Lin28 proteins, both zebrafish Lin-28a and Lin-28b have a conserved cold-shock domain and a pair of CCHC zinc finger domains, and are ubiquitously expressed during early embryonic development. In a reciprocal fashion, the expression of downstream heterochronic genes, let-7 and lin-4/miR-125 miRNA, occurred subsequent to lin-28 expression. The knockdown of Lin-28a or Lin-28b function by morpholino microinjection into embryos resulted in severe cell proliferation defects during early morphogenesis. We found that the expression of let-7 miRNA was upregulated and its downstream target gene, lin-41, was downregulated in these embryos. Interestingly, the expression of miR-430, a key regulator of maternal mRNA decay, was downregulated in lin-28a and lin-28b morphant embryos, suggesting a role for Lin-28 in the maternal-to-zygotic transition in zebrafish. Taken together, our results suggest an evolutionarily conserved and pivotal role of the heterochronic gene pathway in early vertebrate embryogenesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The let-7 and lin-4 microRNAs belong to a class of temporally expressed, noncoding regulatory RNAs that function as heterochronic switch genes in the nematode C. elegans. Heterochronic genes control the relative timing of events during development and are considered a major force in the rapid evolution of new morphologies. let-7 is highly conserved and in Drosophila is temporally coregulated with the lin-4 homolog, miR-125. Little is known, however, about their requirement outside the nematode or whether they universally control the timing of developmental processes. RESULTS:We report the generation of a Drosophila mutant that lacks let-7 and miR-125 activities and that leads to a pleiotropic phenotype arising during metamorphosis. We focus on two defects and demonstrate that loss of let-7 and miR-125 results in temporal delays in two distinct metamorphic processes: the terminal cell-cycle exit in the wing and maturation of neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) at adult abdominal muscles. We identify the abrupt (ab) gene, encoding a nuclear protein, as a bona fide let-7 target and provide evidence that let-7 governs the maturation rate of abdominal NMJs during metamorphosis by regulating ab expression. CONCLUSIONS:Drosophila Iet-7 and miR-125 mutants exhibit temporal misregulation of specific metamorphic processes. As in C. elegans, Drosophila let-7 is both necessary and sufficient for the appropriate timing of a specific cell-cycle exit, indicating that its function as a heterochronic microRNA is conserved. The ab gene is a target of let-7, and its repression in muscle is essential for the timing of NMJ maturation during metamorphosis. Our results suggest that let-7 and miR-125 serve as conserved regulators of events necessary for the transition from juvenile to adult life stages.
Project description:Many neural lineages display a temporal pattern, but the mechanisms controlling the ordered production of neuronal subtypes remain unclear. Here, we show that Drosophila let-7 and miR-125, cotranscribed from the let-7-Complex (let-7-C) locus, regulate the transcription factor chinmo to control temporal cell fate in the mushroom body (MB) lineage. We find that let-7-C is activated in postmitotic neurons born during the larval-to-pupal transition, when transitions among three MB subtypes occur. Loss or increase of let-7-C delays or accelerates these transitions, respectively, and leads to cell fate transformations. Consistent with our identification of let-7 and miR-125 sites in a recently identified ?6 kb extension of the chinmo 3' UTR, Chinmo is elevated in let-7-C mutant MBs. In addition, we show that let-7-C acts upstream of chinmo and that let-7-C phenotypes are caused by elevated chinmo. Thus, these heterochronic miRNAs, originally identified in C. elegans, underlie progenitor cell multipotency during the development of diverse bilateria.
Project description:In Caenorhabditis elegans, a well-defined pathway of heterochronic genes ensures the proper timing of stage-specific developmental events. During the final larval stage, an upregulation of the let-7 microRNA indirectly activates the terminal differentiation factor and central regulator of the larval-to-adult transition, LIN-29, via the downregulation of the let-7 target genes lin-41 and hbl-1. Here, we identify a new heterochronic gene, mab-10, and show that mab-10 encodes a NAB (NGFI-A-binding protein) transcriptional co-factor. MAB-10 acts with LIN-29 to control the expression of genes required to regulate a subset of differentiation events during the larval-to-adult transition, and we show that the NAB-interaction domain of LIN-29 is conserved in Kruppel-family EGR (early growth response) proteins. In mammals, EGR proteins control the differentiation of multiple cell lineages, and EGR-1 acts with NAB proteins to initiate menarche by regulating the transcription of the luteinizing hormone ? subunit. Genome-wide association studies of humans and various studies of mouse recently have implicated the mammalian homologs of the C. elegans heterochronic gene lin-28 in regulating cellular differentiation and the timing of menarche. Our work suggests that human homologs of multiple C. elegans heterochronic genes might act in an evolutionarily conserved pathway to promote cellular differentiation and the onset of puberty.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are regulatory molecules that negatively control gene expression by binding to complementary sequences on target mRNAs. The most thoroughly characterized miRNAs, lin-4 and let-7, direct cell fate determination during the larval transitions in C. elegans and act as key regulators of temporal gene expression. lin-4 and let-7 are founding members of two distinct families of miRNA genes sharing strong sequence homology primarily in the 5' end of the mature miRNAs. In this report, we characterize the temporal and spatial expression patterns of lin-4 and let-7 family members using northern blot analysis and mir::gfp fusion studies. Our results show that lin-4 and let-7 homologues possess distinct temporal and spatial expression patterns during nematode development and that known heterochronic genes regulate their expression. We find that certain lin-4 and let-7 family members display overlapping expression patterns in the hypodermis and the reproductive system, suggesting that combinations of miRNAs from across families may control common developmental events.
Project description:Besides being a spectacular developmental process, metamorphosis is key to insect success. Entry into metamorphosis is controlled by juvenile hormone (JH). In larvae, JH prevents pupal and adult morphogenesis, thus keeping the insect in its immature state. How JH signals to preclude metamorphosis is poorly understood, and a JH receptor remains unknown. One candidate for the JH receptor role is the Methoprene-tolerant (Met) Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) domain protein [also called Resistance to JH, Rst (1)JH], whose loss confers tolerance to JH and its mimic methoprene in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. However, Met deficiency does not affect the larval-pupal transition, possibly because this process does not require JH absence in Drosophila. By contrast, the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum is sensitive to developmental regulation by JH, thus making an ideal system to examine the role of Met in the antimetamorphic JH action. Here we show that impaired function of the Met ortholog TcMet renders Tribolium resistant to the effects of ectopic JH and, in a striking contrast to Drosophila, causes early-stage beetle larvae to undergo precocious metamorphosis. This is evident as TcMet-deficient larvae pupate prematurely or develop specific heterochronic phenotypes such as pupal-like cuticular structures, appendages, and compound eyes. Our results demonstrate that TcMet functions in JH response and provide the critical evidence that the putative JH receptor Met mediates the antimetamorphic effect of JH.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Caenorhabditis elegans seam cells serve as a good model to understand how genes and signaling pathways interact to control asymmetric cell fates. The stage-specific pattern of seam cell division is coordinated by a genetic network that includes WNT asymmetry pathway components WRM-1, LIT-1, and POP-1, as well as heterochronic microRNAs (miRNAs) and their downstream targets. Mutations in pry-1, a negative regulator of WNT signaling that belongs to the Axin family, were shown to cause seam cell defects; however, the mechanism of PRY-1 action and its interactions with miRNAs remain unclear. RESULTS:We found that pry-1 mutants in C. elegans exhibit seam cell, cuticle, and alae defects. To examine this further, a miRNA transcriptome analysis was carried out, which showed that let-7 (miR-48, miR-84, miR-241) and lin-4 (lin-4, miR-237) family members were upregulated in the absence of pry-1 function. Similar phenotypes and patterns of miRNA overexpression were also observed in C. briggsae pry-1 mutants, a species that is closely related to C. elegans. RNA interference-mediated silencing of wrm-1 and lit-1 in the C. elegans pry-1 mutants rescued the seam cell defect, whereas pop-1 silencing enhanced the phenotype, suggesting that all three proteins are likely important for PRY-1 function in seam cells. We also found that these miRNAs were overexpressed in pop-1 hypomorphic animals, suggesting that PRY-1 may be required for POP-1-mediated miRNA suppression. Analysis of the let-7 and lin-4-family heterochronic targets, lin-28 and hbl-1, showed that both genes were significantly downregulated in pry-1 mutants, and furthermore, lin-28 silencing reduced the number of seam cells in mutant animals. CONCLUSIONS:Our results show that PRY-1 plays a conserved role to maintain normal expression of heterochronic miRNAs in nematodes. Furthermore, we demonstrated that PRY-1 acts upstream of the WNT asymmetry pathway components WRM-1, LIT-1, and POP-1, and miRNA target genes in seam cell development.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNAs that regulate gene expression posttranscriptionally via the 3' UTR of target mRNAs and were first identified in the Caenorhabditis elegans heterochronic pathway. miRNAs have since been found in many organisms and have broad functions, including control of differentiation and pluripotency in humans. lin-4 and let-7-family miRNAs regulate developmental timing in C. elegans, and their proper temporal expression ensures cell lineage patterns are correctly timed and sequentially executed. Although much is known about miRNA biogenesis, less is understood about how miRNA expression is timed and regulated. lin-42, the worm homolog of the circadian rhythm gene period of flies and mammals, is another core component of the heterochronic gene pathway. lin-42 mutants have a precocious phenotype, in which later-stage programs are executed too early, but the placement of lin-42 in the timing pathway is unclear. Here, we demonstrate that lin-42 negatively regulates heterochronic miRNA transcription. let-7 and the related miRNA miR-48 accumulate precociously in lin-42 mutants. This defect reflects transcriptional misregulation because enhanced expression of both primary miRNA transcripts (pri-miRNAs) and a let-7 promoter::gfp fusion are observed. The pri-miRNA levels oscillate during larval development, in a pattern reminiscent of lin-42 expression. Importantly, we show that lin-42 is not required for this cycling; instead, peak amplitude is increased. Genetic analyses further confirm that lin-42 acts through let-7 family miRNAs. Taken together, these data show that a key function of lin-42 in developmental timing is to dampen pri-miRNAs levels, preventing their premature expression as mature miRNAs.