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PLoS Genet. 2012;8(7):e1002823. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002823. Epub 2012 Jul 26.

Let-7b/c enhance the stability of a tissue-specific mRNA during mammalian organogenesis as part of a feedback loop involving KSRP.

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INSERM U1065, Centre Méditerranéen de Médecine Moléculaire (C3M), Team 10-Control of Gene Expression, Nice, France.

Erratum in

  • PLoS Genet. 2012 Sep;8(9). doi:10.1371/annotation/c93e4b67-d237-48fb-aec7-0db398407bb4.


Gene silencing mediated by either microRNAs (miRNAs) or Adenylate/uridylate-rich elements Mediated mRNA Degradation (AMD) is a powerful way to post-transcriptionally modulate gene expression. We and others have reported that the RNA-binding protein KSRP favors the biogenesis of select miRNAs (including let-7 family) and activates AMD promoting the decay of inherently labile mRNAs. Different layers of interplay between miRNA- and AMD-mediated gene silencing have been proposed in cultured cells, but the relationship between the two pathways in living organisms is still elusive. We conditionally deleted Dicer in mouse pituitary from embryonic day (E) 9.5 through Cre-mediated recombination. In situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR revealed that Dicer is essential for pituitary morphogenesis and correct expression of hormones. Strikingly, αGSU (alpha glycoprotein subunit, common to three pituitary hormones) was absent in Dicer-deleted pituitaries. αGSU mRNA is unstable and its half-life increases during pituitary development. A transcriptome-wide analysis of microdissected E12.5 pituitaries revealed a significant increment of KSRP expression in conditional Dicer-deleted mice. We found that KSRP directly binds to αGSU mRNA, promoting its rapid decay; and, during pituitary development, αGSU expression displays an inverse temporal relationship to KSRP. Further, let-7b/c downregulated KSRP expression, promoting the degradation of its mRNA by directly binding to the 3'UTR. Therefore, we propose a model in which let-7b/c and KSRP operate within a negative feedback loop. Starting from E12.5, KSRP induces the maturation of let-7b/c that, in turn, post-transcriptionally downregulates the expression of KSRP itself. This event leads to stabilization of αGSU mRNA, which ultimately enhances the steady-state expression levels. We have identified a post-transcriptional regulatory network active during mouse pituitary development in which the expression of the hormone αGSU is increased by let7b/c through downregulation of KSRP. Our study unveils a functional crosstalk between miRNA- and AMD-dependent gene regulation during mammalian organogenesis events.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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