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Fly (Austin). 2010 Oct-Dec;4(4):306-11. Epub 2010 Oct 1.

Hormonal regulation of Drosophila microRNA let-7 and miR-125 that target innate immunity.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.


The steroid 20-hydroxy-ecdysone (20-HE) and the sesquiterpenoid Juvenile Hormone (JH) coordinate insect life stage transitions. 20-HE exerts these effects by the sequential induction of response genes. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans hormones also play a role in such transitions, but notably, microRNA such as let-7 and lin-4 have likewise been found to help order developmental steps. Little is known about the corresponding function of homologous microRNA in Drosophila melanogaster, and the way microRNA might be regulated by 20-HE in the fly is ambiguous. Here we used Drosophila S2 cells to analyze the effects of 20-HE on D. melanogaster microRNA let-7 and miR-125, the homolog of lin-4. The induction by 20-HE of let-7 and miR-125 in S2 cells is inhibited by RNAi knockdown of the ecdysone receptor and, as previously shown, by knockdown of its cofactor broad-complex C. To help resolve the currently ambiguous role of 20-HE in the control of microRNA, we show that nanomolar concentrations of 20-HE primes cells to subsequently express microRNA when exposed to micromolar levels of 20-HE. We then explore the role microRNA plays in the established relationship between 20-HE and the induction of innate immunity. We show that the 3'UTR of the antimicrobial peptide diptericin has a let-7 binding site and that let-7 represses translation from this site. We conclude that 20-HE facilitates the initial expression of innate immunity while it simultaneously induces negative regulation via microRNA control of antimicrobial peptide translation.

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