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Fu, S., Nien, C.Y., Liang, H.L., Rushlow, C. (2014). Co-activation of microRNAs by Zelda is essential for early Drosophila development.  Development 141(10): 2108--2118.
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Research paper

Transcription factors and microRNAs (miRNAs) are two important classes of trans-regulators in differential gene expression. Transcription factors occupy cis-regulatory motifs in DNA to activate or repress gene transcription, whereas miRNAs specifically pair with seed sites in target mRNAs to trigger mRNA decay or inhibit translation. Dynamic spatiotemporal expression patterns of transcription factors and miRNAs during development point to their stage- and tissue-specific functions. Recent studies have focused on miRNA functions during development; however, much remains to explore regarding how the expression of miRNAs is initiated and how dynamic miRNA expression patterns are achieved by transcriptional regulatory networks at different developmental stages. Here, we focused on the identification, regulation and function of miRNAs during the earliest stage of Drosophila development, when the maternal-to-zygotic transition (MZT) takes place. Eleven miRNA clusters comprise the first set of miRNAs activated in the blastoderm embryo. The transcriptional activator Zelda is required for their proper activation and regulation, and Zelda binding observed in genome-wide binding profiles is predictive of enhancer activity. In addition, other blastoderm transcription factors, comprising both activators and repressors, the activities of which are potentiated and coordinated by Zelda, contribute to the accurate temporal and spatial expression of these miRNAs, which are known to function in diverse developmental processes. Although previous genetic studies showed no early phenotypes upon loss of individual miRNAs, our analysis of the miR-1; miR-9a double mutant revealed defects in gastrulation, demonstrating the importance of co-activation of miRNAs by Zelda during the MZT.

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PMC4011091 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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