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Genes Dev. 2006 Oct 15;20(20):2793-805. Epub 2006 Oct 2.

MicroRNA-9a ensures the precise specification of sensory organ precursors in Drosophila.

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Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and Department of Neurology, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been implicated in regulating various aspects of animal development, but their functions in neurogenesis are largely unknown. Here we report that loss of miR-9a function in the Drosophila peripheral nervous system leads to ectopic production of sensory organ precursors (SOPs), whereas overexpression of miR-9a results in a severe loss of SOPs. We further demonstrate a strong genetic interaction between miR-9a and senseless (sens) in controlling the formation of SOPs in the adult wing imaginal disc. Moreover, miR-9a suppresses Sens expression through its 3' untranslated region. miR-9a is expressed in epithelial cells, including those adjacent to SOPs within proneural clusters, suggesting that miR-9a normally inhibits neuronal fate in non-SOP cells by down-regulating Sens expression. These results indicate that miR-9a ensures the generation of the precise number of neuronal precursor cells during development.

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