Although hundreds of evolutionarily conserved microRNAs have been discovered, the functions of most remain unknown. Here, we describe the embryonic spatiotemporal expression profile, transcriptional regulation, and loss-of-function phenotype of Drosophila miR-1 (DmiR-1). DmiR-1 RNA is highly expressed throughout the mesoderm of early embryos and subsequently in somatic, visceral, and pharyngeal muscles, and the dorsal vessel. The expression of DmiR-1 is controlled by the Twist and Mef2 transcription factors. DmiR-1KO mutants, generated using ends-in gene targeting, die as small, immobilized second instar larvae with severely deformed musculature. This lethality is rescued when a DmiR-1 transgene is expressed specifically in the mesoderm and muscle. Strikingly, feeding triggers DmiR-1KO-associated paralysis and death; starved first instar DmiR-1KO larvae are essentially normal. Thus, DmiR-1 is not required for the formation or physiological function of the larval musculature, but is required for the dramatic post-mitotic growth of larval muscle.
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