Pacman/Xrn1 is a highly conserved exoribonuclease known to play a critical role in gene regulatory events such as control of mRNA stability, RNA interference and regulation via miRNAs. Although Pacman has been well studied in Drosophila tissue culture cells, the biologically relevant cellular pathways controlled by Pacman in natural tissues are unknown. This study shows that a hypomorphic mutation in pacman (pcm (5)) results in smaller wing imaginal discs. These tissues, found in the larva, are known to grow and differentiate to form wing and thorax structures in the adult fly. Using microarray analysis, followed by quantitative RT-PCR, we show that eight mRNAs were increased in level by>2-fold in the pcm5 mutant wing discs compared with the control. The levels of pre-mRNAs were tested for five of these mRNAs; four did not increase in the pcm (5) mutant, showing that they are regulated at the post-transcriptional level and, therefore, could be directly affected by Pacman. These transcripts include one that encodes the heat shock protein Hsp67Bc, which is upregulated 11.9-fold at the post-transcriptional level and 2.3-fold at the protein level. One miRNA, miR-277-3p, is 5.6-fold downregulated at the post-transcriptional level in mutant discs, suggesting that Pacman affects its processing in this tissue. Together, these data show that a relatively small number of mRNAs and miRNAs substantially change in abundance in pacman mutant wing imaginal discs. Since Hsp67Bc is known to regulate autophagy and protein synthesis, it is possible that Pacman may control the growth of wing imaginal discs by regulating these processes.
Keywords: Drosophiladevelopment; Pacman; RNA degradation; RNA stability; Xrn1; exoribonuclease; imaginal discs; miRNAs; post-transcriptional control.