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Open Access Research article

Circadian regulation of a limited set of conserved microRNAs in Drosophila

Maocheng Yang124, Jung-Eun Lee3, Richard W Padgett12 and Isaac Edery13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA

2 Waksman Institute, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA

3 Center for Advanced Biotechnology, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA

4 National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:83  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-83

Published: 19 February 2008

Abstract

Background

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNA molecules that target mRNAs to control gene expression by attenuating the translational efficiency and stability of transcripts. They are found in a wide variety of organisms, from plants to insects and humans. Here, we use Drosophila to investigate the possibility that circadian clocks regulate the expression of miRNAs.

Results

We used a microarray platform to survey the daily levels of D. melanogaster miRNAs in adult heads of wildtype flies and the arrhythmic clock mutant cyc01. We find two miRNAs (dme-miR-263a and -263b) that exhibit robust daily changes in abundance in wildtype flies that are abolished in the cyc01 mutant. dme-miR-263a and -263b reach trough levels during the daytime, peak during the night and their levels are constitutively elevated in cyc01 flies. A similar pattern of cycling is also observed in complete darkness, further supporting circadian regulation. In addition, we identified several miRNAs that appear to be constitutively expressed but nevertheless differ in overall daily levels between control and cyc01 flies.

Conclusion

The circadian clock regulates miRNA expression in Drosophila, although this appears to be highly restricted to a small number of miRNAs. A common mechanism likely underlies daily changes in the levels of dme-miR-263a and -263b. Our results suggest that cycling miRNAs contribute to daily changes in mRNA and/or protein levels in Drosophila. Intriguingly, the mature forms of dme-miR-263a and -263b are very similar in sequence to several miRNAs recently shown to be under circadian regulation in the mouse retina, suggesting conserved functions.