Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathways control an array of developmental and homeostatic events, and must themselves be exquisitely controlled. Here, we identify Caenorhabditis elegans SMA-10 as a positive extracellular regulator of BMP-like receptor signaling. SMA-10 acts genetically in a BMP-like (Sma/Mab) pathway between the ligand DBL-1 and its receptors SMA-6 and DAF-4. We cloned sma-10 and show that it has fifteen leucine-rich repeats and three immunoglobulin-like domains, hallmarks of an LRIG subfamily of transmembrane proteins. SMA-10 is required in the hypodermis, where the core Sma/Mab signaling components function. We demonstrate functional conservation of LRIGs by rescuing sma-10(lf) animals with the Drosophila ortholog lambik, showing that SMA-10 physically binds the DBL-1 receptors SMA-6 and DAF-4 and enhances signaling in vitro. This interaction is evolutionarily conserved, evidenced by LRIG1 binding to vertebrate receptors. We propose a new role for LRIG family members: the positive regulation of BMP signaling by binding both Type I and Type II receptors.
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.