PLoS genetics

Tissue expression pattern of PMK-2 p38 MAPK is established by the miR-58 family in C. elegans.

PMID 25671546


Analyses of gene expression profiles in evolutionarily diverse organisms have revealed a role for microRNAs in tuning tissue-specific gene expression. Here, we show that the relatively abundant and constitutively expressed miR-58 family of microRNAs sharply defines the tissue-specific expression of the broadly transcribed gene encoding PMK-2 p38 MAPK in Caenorhabditis elegans. Whereas PMK-2 functions redundantly with PMK-1 in the nervous system to regulate neuronal development and behavioral responses to pathogenic bacteria, the miR-58, miR-80, miR-81, and miR-82 microRNAs function redundantly to destabilize pmk-2 mRNA in non-neuronal cells with switch-like potency. Our data suggest a role for the miR-58 family in the establishment of neuronal-specific gene expression in C. elegans, and support a more general role for microRNAs in the establishment of tissue-specific gene expression.