Sexual maturation must occur on a controlled developmental schedule. In mammals, Makorin3 (MKRN3) and the miRNA regulators LIN28A/B are key regulators of this process, but how they act is unclear. In C. elegans, sexual maturation of the nervous system includes the functional remodeling of postmitotic neurons and the onset of adult-specific behaviors. Here, we find that the lin-28-let-7 axis (the ‘heterochronic pathway’) determines the timing of these events. Upstream of lin-28, the Makorin lep-2 and the lncRNA lep-5 regulate maturation cell-autonomously, indicating that distributed clocks, not a central timer, coordinate sexual differentiation of the C. elegans nervous system. Overexpression of human MKRN3 delays aspects of C. elegans sexual maturation, suggesting the conservation of Makorin function. These studies reveal roles for a Makorin and a lncRNA in timing of sexual differentiation; moreover, they demonstrate deep conservation of the lin-28-let-7 system in controlling the functional maturation of the nervous system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)