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J Cell Biol. 2009 Apr 6;185(1):115-27. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200807026. Epub 2009 Mar 30.

miR-8 microRNAs regulate the response to osmotic stress in zebrafish embryos.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are highly conserved small RNAs that act as translational regulators of gene expression, exerting their influence by selectively targeting mRNAs bearing complementary sequence elements. These RNAs function in diverse aspects of animal development and physiology. Because of an ability to act as rapid responders at the level of translation, miRNAs may also influence stress response. In this study, we show that the miR-8 family of miRNAs regulates osmoregulation in zebrafish embryos. Ionocytes, which are a specialized cell type scattered throughout the epidermis, are responsible for pH and ion homeostasis during early development before gill formation. The highly conserved miR-8 family is expressed in ionocytes and enables precise control of ion transport by modulating the expression of Nherf1, which is a regulator of apical trafficking of transmembrane ion transporters. Ultimately, disruption of miR-8 family member function leads to an inability to respond to osmotic stress and blocks the ability to properly traffic and/or cluster transmembrane glycoproteins at the apical surface of ionocytes.

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