The let-7 MicroRNA Family Members mir-48, mir-84, and mir-241 Function Together to Regulate Developmental Timing in Caenorhabditis elegans
The microRNA let-7 is a critical regulator of developmental timing events at the larval-to-adult transition in C. elegans. Recently, microRNAs with sequence similarity to let-7 have been identified. We find that doubly mutant animals lacking the let-7 family microRNA genes mir-48 and mir-84 exhibit retarded molting behavior and retarded adult gene expression in the hypodermis. Triply mutant animals lacking mir-48, mir-84, and mir-241 exhibit repetition of L2-stage events in addition to retarded adult-stage events. mir-48, mir-84, and mir-241 function together to control the L2-to-L3 transition, likely by base pairing to complementary sites in the hbl-1 3′ UTR and downregulating hbl-1 activity. Genetic analysis indicates that mir-48, mir-84, and mir-241 specify the timing of the L2-to-L3 transition in parallel to the heterochronic genes lin-28 and lin-46. These results indicate that let-7 family microRNAs function in combination to affect both early and late developmental timing decisions.