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Dev Cell. 2003 May;4(5):639-50.

The C elegans hunchback homolog, hbl-1, controls temporal patterning and is a probable microRNA target.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, PO Box 208103, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


hunchback regulates the temporal identity of neuroblasts in Drosophila. Here we show that hbl-1, the C. elegans hunchback ortholog, also controls temporal patterning. Furthermore, hbl-1 is a probable target of microRNA regulation through its 3'UTR. hbl-1 loss-of-function causes the precocious expression of adult seam cell fates. This phenotype is similar to loss-of-function of lin-41, a known target of the let-7 microRNA. Like lin-41 mutations, hbl-1 loss-of-function partially suppresses a let-7 mutation. The hbl-1 3'UTR is both necessary and sufficient to downregulate a reporter gene during development, and the let-7 and lin-4 microRNAs are both required for HBL-1/GFP downregulation. Multiple elements in the hbl-1 3'UTR show complementarity to regulatory microRNAs, suggesting that microRNAs directly control hbl-1. MicroRNAs may likewise function to regulate Drosophila hunchback during temporal patterning of the nervous system.

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