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  • C. elegans LIN-28 controls temporal cell fate progression by regulating LIN-46 expression via the 5' UTR of lin-46 mRNA. Cell reports Ilbay, O., Nelson, C., Ambros, V. 2021; 36 (10): 109670


    Lin28/LIN-28 is a conserved RNA-binding protein that promotes proliferation and pluripotency and can be oncogenic in mammals. Mammalian Lin28 and C. elegans LIN-28 have been shown to inhibit biogenesis of the conserved cellular differentiation-promoting microRNA let-7 by directly binding to unprocessed let-7 transcripts. Lin28/LIN-28 also bind and regulate many mRNAs in diverse cell types. However, the determinants and consequences of LIN-28-mRNA interactions are not well understood. Here, we report that C. elegans LIN-28 represses the expression of LIN-46, a downstream protein in the heterochronic pathway. We find that lin-28 and sequences within the lin-46 5' UTR are required to prevent LIN-46 expression at early larval stages. Moreover, we find that precocious LIN-46 expression caused by mutations in the lin-46 5' UTR is sufficient to cause precocious heterochronic defects similar to those of lin-28(lf) animals. Thus, our findings demonstrate the biological importance of the regulation of individual target mRNAs by LIN-28.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109670

    View details for PubMedID 34496246

  • Regulation of nuclear-cytoplasmic partitioning by the lin-28-lin-46 pathway reinforces microRNA repression of HBL-1 to confer robust cell-fate progression in C. elegans. Development (Cambridge, England) Ilbay, O., Ambros, V. 2019; 146 (21)


    MicroRNAs target complementary mRNAs for degradation or translational repression, reducing or preventing protein synthesis. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the transcription factor HBL-1 (Hunchback-like 1) promotes early larval (L2)-stage cell fates, and the let-7 family microRNAs temporally downregulate HBL-1 to enable the L2-to-L3 cell-fate progression. In parallel to let-7-family microRNAs, the conserved RNA-binding protein LIN-28 and its downstream gene lin-46 also act upstream of HBL-1 in regulating the L2-to-L3 cell-fate progression. The molecular function of LIN-46, and how the lin-28-lin-46 pathway regulates HBL-1, are not understood. Here, we report that the regulation of HBL-1 by the lin-28-lin-46 pathway is independent of the let-7/lin-4 microRNA complementary sites (LCSs) in the hbl-1 3'UTR, and involves stage-specific post-translational regulation of HBL-1 nuclear accumulation. We find that LIN-46 is necessary and sufficient to prevent nuclear accumulation of HBL-1. Our results illuminate that robust progression from L2 to L3 cell fates depends on the combination of two distinct modes of HBL-1 downregulation: decreased synthesis of HBL-1 via let-7-family microRNA activity, and decreased nuclear accumulation of HBL-1 via action of the lin-28-lin-46 pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/dev.183111

    View details for PubMedID 31597658

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6857590

  • Pheromones and Nutritional Signals Regulate the Developmental Reliance on let-7 Family MicroRNAs in C. elegans. Current biology : CB Ilbay, O., Ambros, V. 2019; 29 (11): 1735-1745.e4


    Adverse environmental conditions can affect rates of animal developmental progression and lead to temporary developmental quiescence (diapause), exemplified by the dauer larva stage of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). Remarkably, patterns of cell division and temporal cell-fate progression in C. elegans larvae are not affected by changes in developmental trajectory. However, the underlying physiological and gene regulatory mechanisms that ensure robust developmental patterning despite substantial plasticity in developmental progression are largely unknown. Here, we report that diapause-inducing pheromones correct heterochronic developmental cell lineage defects caused by insufficient expression of let-7 family microRNAs in C. elegans. Moreover, two conserved endocrine signaling pathways, DAF-7/TGF-β and DAF-2/Insulin, that confer on the larva diapause and non-diapause alternative developmental trajectories interact with the nuclear hormone receptor, DAF-12, to initiate and regulate a rewiring of the genetic circuitry controlling temporal cell fates. This rewiring includes engagement of certain heterochronic genes, lin-46, lin-4, and nhl-2, that are previously associated with an altered genetic program in post-diapause animals, in combination with a novel ligand-independent DAF-12 activity, to downregulate the critical let-7 family target Hunchback-like-1 (HBL-1). Our results show how pheromone or endocrine signaling pathways can coordinately regulate both developmental progression and cell-fate transitions in C. elegans larvae under stress so that the developmental schedule of cell fates remains unaffected by changes in developmental trajectory.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2019.04.034

    View details for PubMedID 31104929

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7245018