The heterochronic gene lin-28 of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans controls the relative timing of diverse developmental events during the animal's larval stages. lin-28 is stage-specifically regulated by two genetic circuits: negatively by the 22-nt RNA lin-4 and positively by the heterochronic gene lin-14. Here, we show that lin-28 is repressed during normal development by a mechanism that acts on its mRNA after translation initiation. We provide evidence that lin-14 inhibits a negative regulation that is independent of the lin-4 RNA and involves the gene daf-12, which encodes a nuclear hormone receptor. The lin-4-independent repression does not affect the initiation of translation on the lin-28 mRNA, and like the lin-4-mediated repression, acts through the gene's 3′-untranlsated region. In addition, we find that lin-4 is not sufficient to cause repression of lin-28 if the lin-4-independent circuit is inhibited. Therefore, the lin-4-independent circuit likely contributes substantially to the down-regulation of lin-28 that occurs during normal development. The role of lin-4 may be to initiate or potentiate the lin-4-independent circuit. We speculate that a parallel lin-4-independent regulatory mechanism regulates the expression of lin-14.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology