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Nature. 2000 Feb 24;403(6772):901-6.

The 21-nucleotide let-7 RNA regulates developmental timing in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston 02114, USA.

Abstract

The C. elegans heterochronic gene pathway consists of a cascade of regulatory genes that are temporally controlled to specify the timing of developmental events. Mutations in heterochronic genes cause temporal transformations in cell fates in which stage-specific events are omitted or reiterated. Here we show that let-7 is a heterochronic switch gene. Loss of let-7 gene activity causes reiteration of larval cell fates during the adult stage, whereas increased let-7 gene dosage causes precocious expression of adult fates during larval stages. let-7 encodes a temporally regulated 21-nucleotide RNA that is complementary to elements in the 3' untranslated regions of the heterochronic genes lin-14, lin-28, lin-41, lin-42 and daf-12, indicating that expression of these genes may be directly controlled by let-7. A reporter gene bearing the lin-41 3' untranslated region is temporally regulated in a let-7-dependent manner. A second regulatory RNA, lin-4, negatively regulates lin-14 and lin-28 through RNA-RNA interactions with their 3' untranslated regions. We propose that the sequential stage-specific expression of the lin-4 and let-7 regulatory RNAs triggers transitions in the complement of heterochronic regulatory proteins to coordinate developmental timing.

PMID:
10706289
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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