The Caenorhabditis elegans left and right AWC olfactory neurons communicate to establish stochastic asymmetric identities, AWCON and AWCOFF, by inhibiting a calcium-mediated signaling pathway in the future AWCON cell. NSY-4/claudin-like protein and NSY-5/innexin gap junction protein are the two parallel signals that antagonize the calcium signaling pathway to induce the AWCON fate. However, it is not known how the calcium signaling pathway is downregulated by nsy-4 and nsy-5 in the AWCON cell. Here we identify a microRNA, mir-71, that represses the TIR-1/Sarm1 adaptor protein in the calcium signaling pathway to promote the AWCON identity. Similar to tir-1 loss-of-function mutants, overexpression of mir-71 generates two AWCON neurons. tir-1 expression is downregulated through its 3′ UTR in AWCON, in which mir-71 is expressed at a higher level than in AWCOFF. In addition, mir-71 is sufficient to inhibit tir-1 expression in AWC through the mir-71 complementary site in the tir-1 3′ UTR. Our genetic studies suggest that mir-71 acts downstream of nsy-4 and nsy-5 to promote the AWCON identity in a cell autonomous manner. Furthermore, the stability of mature mir-71 is dependent on nsy-4 and nsy-5. Together, these results provide insight into the mechanism by which nsy-4 and nsy-5 inhibit calcium signaling to establish stochastic asymmetric AWC differentiation. © 2012 Hsieh et al.
Hsieh, Y. W., Chang, C., & Chuang, C. F. (2012). The MicroRNA mir-71 Inhibits Calcium Signaling by Targeting the TIR-1/Sarm1 Adaptor Protein to Control Stochastic L/R Neuronal Asymmetry in C. elegans. PLoS Genetics, 8(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1002864