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Hormonal activation of let-7-C microRNAs via EcR is required for adult Drosophila melanogaster morphology and function
Geetanjali Chawla, Nicholas S. Sokol


Steroid hormones and their nuclear receptors drive developmental transitions in diverse organisms, including mammals. In this study, we show that the Drosophila steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) and its nuclear receptor directly activate transcription of the evolutionarily conserved let-7-complex (let-7-C) locus, which encodes the co-transcribed microRNAs miR-100, let-7 and miR-125. These small RNAs post-transcriptionally regulate the expression of target genes, and are required for the remodeling of the Drosophila neuromusculature during the larval-to-adult transition. Deletion of three 20E responsive elements located in the let-7-C locus results in reduced levels of let-7-C microRNAs, leading to neuromuscular and behavioral defects in adults. Given the evolutionary conservation of let-7-C microRNA sequences and temporal expression profiles, these findings indicate that steroid hormone-coupled control of let-7-C microRNAs is part of an ancestral pathway controlling the transition from larval-to-reproductive animal forms.

  • Accepted March 5, 2012.
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