A single microRNA-Hox gene module controls equivalent movements in biomechanically distinct forms of Drosophila

Issa, A. Raouf, Picao Osorio, João, Rito, Nuno, Chiappe, M. Eugenia and Alonso, Claudio R (2019) A single microRNA-Hox gene module controls equivalent movements in biomechanically distinct forms of Drosophila. Current Biology. ISSN 0960-9822

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Abstract

Movement is the main output of the nervous system. It emerges during development to become a highly coordinated physiological process essential to survival and adaptation of the organism to the environment. Similar movements can be observed in morphologically distinct developmental stages of an organism, but it is currently unclear whether or not these movements have a common molecular cellular basis. Here we explore this problem in Drosophila, focusing on the roles played by the microRNA (miRNA) locus miR-iab4/8, which we previously showed to be essential for the normal corrective response displayed by the fruit fly larva when turned upside down (self-righting). Our study shows that miR-iab4 is required for normal self-righting across all three Drosophila larval stages. Unexpectedly, we also discover that this miRNA is essential for normal self-righting behavior in the adult fly, an organism with different morphology, neural constitution, and biomechanics. Through the combination of gene expression, optical imaging, and quantitative behavioral approaches, we provide evidence that miR-iab4 exerts its effects on adult self-righting behavior in part through repression of the Hox gene Ultrabithorax (Ubx) in a specific set of adult motor neurons, the NB2-3/lin15 neurons. Our results show that miRNA controls the function, rather than the morphology, of these neurons and demonstrate that post-developmental changes in Hox gene expression can modulate behavior in the adult. Our work reveals that a common miRNA-Hox genetic module can be re-deployed in different neurons to control functionally equivalent movements in biomechanically distinct organisms and describes a novel post-developmental role of the Hox genes in adult neural function.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Drosophila, microRNA, Hox genes, Ultrabithorax, Ubx, behavior, movement, motor neuron, self-righting, adult/larva
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Neuroscience
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Neuroscience
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Depositing User: Claudio Alonso
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2019 07:49
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2019 08:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/85205

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The molecular regulation of Hox genes during animal developmentG0952WELLCOME TRUST098410/Z/12/Z